RESYNC Hybrid Storytelling Program Aims to Unify Peace and Art

The RESYNC training program aims to fuse together art and peace by telling people’s lesser-known stories and adding a human touch to film-making.
RESYNC Info session at Raintree early this month. Picture: Meas Molika
RESYNC Info session at Raintree early this month. Picture: Meas Molika

Art teacher and freelance illustrator, XuAn Nguyen, was part of the 2017 batch to take part in the RESYNC film training program in Manila, the Philippines. This month, she reunited with fellow alumni in Phnom Penh to watch the fruits of their labor as part of the program, which uses art as a tool to instill peace.

The training program aims to elevate the way storytelling is used in film, based on human-centered techniques. RESYNC ultimately wants to change the way stories are told, which leads to healing for humankind in Southeast Asia.

“I think all of the stories produced in the program are the stories of normal people who we don’t usually pay attention to, or just walk past them on the street and don’t focus on what really happens in their daily life, what story they have to share [with us],” said the alumnae from Vietnam’s Hanoi. She added that the program has helped her understand human stories she has never seen before.

Nguyen and alumni from other nations joined the RESYNC Info session at Raintree earlier this month to watch films produced by her alumni from Phnom Penh, Manila, and Hanoi. They had the chance to share their perspectives and what they have learnt so far during the program.

As a Vietnamese national who moved to Cambodia in the last two months, Nguyen is able to connect with Cambodians in Phnom Penh on their emotional state after watching a few films showcasing different livelihoods and the inspiring human stories behind them. Moreover, she can see how her own country produces films compared with those in other countries, which each celebrate their unique culture and creativity.

“The program helps me take a step back, instead of having judgment. It helps me to slow down the process of judgment by listening to the other person and the story. And seeing people as who they are and not seeing them how I want to see them,” Nguyen said, explaining what she learned during the training. This includes how to observe people, interview, record, and shoot a film with her two teammates.

The aspiring filmmaker believes the storytelling program reminds herself to put humans first by slowing down and listening to others without prejudice and with mindfulness. In addition, it also helps to promote her creativity and sense of artistic expression on another level. These are skills that can be used in her career as an artist.

She added, “I always want to come back to the program just to remind myself of the importance of human-centered storytelling, hence keep practicing it daily in my life.”

Akira Morita, 49, is a community design director and a program developer for the School of Slow Media (SSM). The Japanese native left his home country when he was 17-years-old. He has worked in Cambodia since 2014. As a freelance independent consultant, Akira is also one of three co-founders of SSM.

Akira Morita, a community design director and a program development for School of Slow Media (photo by: Meas Molika)
Akira Morita, a community design director and a program development for School of Slow Media (photo by: Meas Molika)

In 2015, SSM launched its first program in Cambodia, where the pilot scheme was a success. Akira said there are reasons to hold the video storytelling program in Cambodia.

Communication skills are important in any aspect of daily life. Hence to understand one another deeply is not dependent on distinguishing languages or culture of individuals, but the emotional connection and social sensitivity, or being able to listen and know how to react or speak to one another during a conversation in a spontaneous and sense of sympathetic approach that cultivates practically.

He also mentioned how filming and storytelling enrich the creativity of those involved. “We hope that filmmaking is a very good way to exercise that creative muscle that has been dormant in us. Especially in documentary film, you cannot plan a big thing, you cannot plan what the other person is going to say, so there are many things we cannot control. So, we just go with the flow and it’s the start of play, that's the time we start to exercise that creative muscle.”

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The hybrid film-making program developer thinks that leadership will be taught and found in the production of film-making by giving more opportunities for participants to grab the chance to be inspired and become a leader to encourage and motivate others regarding the story they want to be known and heard.

“Currently, the image of good leaders in many people's perspectives is most likely the person who is good at developing communities, encouraging everyone to take charge, and also creating a space for everyone to be a good leader too. So, we think this program [of] film-making as a process offers a marvelous way to develop leadership skills,” said Akira.

Akira noted that instead of sensationalizing conflict (for example, poverty, violence, terrorism), people listening to the everyday lives of others in stories should act as a starting point. This humanizing approach makes SSM a unique training, where mindfulness and listening are essential practices in the craft of storytelling.

His last key message to Cambodian youth who love the film and creativity fields is not about how others perceive an artist’s creativity, but instead is about the artist freeing themselves by being confident enough to stand up and breakthrough the limitation of creative restriction.

RESYNC Info session at Raintree in Phnom Penh (by Meas Molika)
RESYNC Info session at Raintree in Phnom Penh (by Meas Molika)

The RESYNC storytelling training program has been attended by many from the region and helped connect people to people on a deeper level through video storytelling. Below are details of the films produced by more than 140 REMIX alumni over three days. These films feature the everyday lives of people in four Asian cities: Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Hanoi (Vietnam), Manila (Philippines), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Tokyo (Japan).

New trainee on the upcoming video story-telling program, Salen Nhean, 28, is a computer science lecturer at a public school. Currently, she has found the RESYNC program an interesting course that can help her find her own story and learn new skills, while reflecting on her life and discovering new things.

“My purpose is just to really slow down and listen to my inner story and be able to listen to other people’s stories. Listen, but also to connect to other people’s stories,” Salen said. “For me, participating in this program is to learn. I’m happy and excited to be more mindful and learn how to build techniques to tell stories and ready to write about my story.”

As she is currently involved in a lot of writing and curious to learn about various topics and people’s stories, Nhean decided to join RESYNC to find out how to tell a story based on human-centered methodology. She will start next month.

RESYNC empowers storytellers, emerging leaders, change-makers and creatives in Asia— this year, focusing on Japan, the Philippines, and Cambodia—with sensing superpowers that enable them to tell a new kind of story.

There are 90 participants from three countries. Teams of three participants make a documentary film in their own local environment and learn about documentary filmmaking, from ideas to screening. They also learn how to listen and connect with compassionate communication, how to be confident in creative collaboration, how to tell a new kind of story with an increased mindfulness, and sensitivity to the power of storytelling. At the end, films will be screened.

Applications for this year’s program have currently ended, with the program slated to start on June 17, until September 11.

Disclosure: This paid content is produced by Kiripost in partnership with School of Slow Media and is editorially independent.