We should never mistake progress for development. Technological progress is evident speaking of digital tools, but it does not mean for sure a human development. Often on the contrary. For instance the digital divide, which concerns about 85% of the human population, still contribute to strengthen the power of the Northern countries over the poor societies of the South. But to-day’s evidence does not mean any fatality for tomorrow. We already observe that many humanitarian non governmental organizations make more and more use of digitaltools, to denounce worldwide violations of human rights, to consolidate economical micro initiatives, for prevention or for education. Local humanitarian associations use internet also to establish a better remote communication between each other in countries having bad transportation infrastructures. I have observed it personally in Africa, for example in Rwanda, where women’s associations thanks to the internet exchange information and coordinate better action in favor of families victimized by the genocide.
l was recently in Cuba, in the small peripheral city of Gibara, taking part in the Festival de cine pobre, launched six years ago by well known film director Humberto Solas. This Festival gathers producers and directors of fiction short films, documentaries and socially committed productions made with very limited budgets, as it happens in countries of the South, notably from Latin America and Africa. We must admit that they could not produce and distribute such quality short films without using digital technologies. l met there delegates of indigenous people from Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, etc., who give digital cameras to natives and train them to promote their own cultures. Even with minimal financial possibilities, such initiatives allow creating, distributing and broadcasting quality documentaries. In Africa we observe initiatives of the same, such as the activity of French CNA – Cinema numérique ambulant - an organization dedicated to producing and distributing documentaries and films thanks to mobile trucks with digital equipments. In Canada the National Film Board launched 2004 the Wikiponi project, coordinated by film director Manon Barbeau. It allows young autochthones to produce documentaries and fiction short films about Attikameks’ and Algonkins’ lives and cultures, and rediscover and value their Amerindian identities.
Cinéma numérique ambulant - Mobile Digital Cinema
Many of us still remember the World Summit of the Information Society organized 2003 in Geneva by United Nations, which precisely created an information’s abuse by evocating fast extraordinary progresses of the use of digital technologies in the poor countries of the South. How could we forget the discourse of Bangladesh’ Prime Minister stating that her country, one of the poorest among the poorest, was already offering an extended digital access to its population! We were also gratified with a documentary showing fishermen of Senegal on their shaky boats consulting by internet the world market’s rates for the fishes they were to sell by auction back in their small harbors. We don’t even hear anymore of the Digital Solidarity Fund officially launched in Geneva 2005 by Chairman Abdoulaye Wade, the Father of Digital Solidarity, in presence of many other Statesmen.
However, a part of such symbolic gestures or excessive statements , we have to admit that humanitarian organizations, minority groups, Chilean, Canadian, African, American Natives are for now on extending solidarity digital networks thanks to the internet. Slowly, but evidently, internet accesses multiply and even reach adobe villages in remote areas. Social compromised animators, educators, or medical assistants are getting able to present on makeshift screens DVD documentaries allowing them to work more efficiency with illiterate populations thanks to video images. Well established groups have initiated regular exchanges to coordinate future actions. Ivan Sanjinés, Bolivian director of CEFREC – Centro de Formacion y Realizacion Cinematografica, works now with CLACCPI – Coordinacion Latina de Cine y Communicacion de los Pueblos Indigenas -, with AIDESEP – Asociacion Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana -, with Mugarik Gabe, led by Carlos Vasquez from Bilbao, and with the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional – not to mention many others –, with the objective of better coordinate training and cooperation international workshops. Amerindian populations may now produce and distribute their own cinema and information media thanks to the digital technologies. We have reach a time then alternative self media allow to escape from the dominant structures of mass media. We encounter from now on a new strategic step ahead in the struggle of these marginalized societies against colonization, allowing them to promote and obtain more respect of their identities and fundamental rights, which were systematically denied till now by the mass media of the centralized dominant conservative colonial minorities.
We are happy enough to share new initiatives of such a digital political revolution, which will democratize information and cultural production, allowing minority and peripheral societies to speak at last in their own name, and assume the capability and responsibility of developing alternative dynamic autonomies. In Guatemala we applaud the1992 Nobel Price Rigoberta Menchu, finally launching TV Maya an native television program, which broadcast in 23 indigenous languages. This television called Light, Voice and Image of the Maya People, still produce only three daily programs. Its annual budget does not reach more than 264 000$. It is evident that it could not even exist without the digital technologies. Cine and TV pobre, because they are digital, will allow colonized people to speak more and more in their own name. Such a new human development may look as a paradox, in a time when we are used to see the digital technologies as a powerful tool of neoliberalism and American globalization. But we have good reasons to foresee on the contrary that digital tools will efficiently contribute to cultural diversity, decolonization and development: a new 3D world!Hervé Fischer