Harvard Student Films Supervised by Joanna Lipper

These twelve short student films were selected from the many made over the years by undergraduates enrolled in Joanna Lipper's course "Using Film For Social Change" in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. The Course was cross-listed with two additional departments: Women, Gender and Sexuality and Visual and Environmental Studies. Most of these students had never taken a filmmaking class before and had little or no prior filmmaking experience. They had one semester (15 weeks) during which time they had to shoot and complete these projects, attend classes, screenings and technical sections, and write a fifteen-page paper related to their ethnographic research as well as weekly response papers to films screened for the class. Lipper's course was part of the Social Engagement Initiative and was distinguished by the university's committee on diversity and inclusion for excellence in its curriculum in these areas. By focusing on specific issues (such as poverty, educational disparities, healthcare, employment opportunities, immigration, diasporic culture and identity, gender roles, incarceration, rehabilitation and re-entry to society), Social Engagement courses seek to wed academic study with practical experience and activity-based learning. Through coordinated interdisciplinary coursework and qualitative and quantitative research, students explore and reflect using visual anthropological and ethnographic approaches and methodologies both within and beyond the university environment, working ethically and collaboratively with human subjects.

From Prison to Employment

a film by Civry Melvin

While many of the varying transitional programs across the U.S. have proven to be essential in helping ex-inmates to successfully reenter society, they are becoming increasingly difficult to operate on a national scale due to a rapid increase in prison releases. The Transitional Employment Program (TEP) at the Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury offers prisoners the chance to work as bakers in the last months before they are released from prison and during their first years out of prison. In addition to employment in the café, the program offers cooking classes, counselling, computer classes and spirituality classes. This film profiles the man who runs the program, a former prisoner himself who now mentors others who have a chance to rebuild their lives.