from The Lazarus Effect

from The Lazarus Effect

Pictures pack a punch. And so continuing in the tradition of our “What we’re reading” posts, one of the things we’ll be doing here at Nieman Storyboard is a regular roundup called “What we’re watching.”

Bringing together documentary film, interactive visuals, photo galleries and other forms of reported visual narrative in one place may make for an eclectic listing, but we’re interested in stories that unwind in classic ways or blow our minds with new narrative approaches. Sometimes we’ll include video interviews with people talking about how they created the stories they did; more often, we’ll direct you to the stories themselves.

Here’s the first batch:

The Lazarus Effect. Directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jones, this HBO documentary follows Constance Mudenda, an HIV-positive woman who lost three children to AIDS and now works to support testing and treatment, showing the effect that inexpensive anti-retroviral medications can have in transforming the lives of the millions of people afflicted with HIV in Africa.

Mudenda, talking about when she and her husband both tested positive for HIV: That’s when the tricky part came in. There was a lot of debate: what was more important? Should we pay the rent, or buy the drugs, or should we buy food?

Invisible: The crisis of LGBT Youth Homelessness.” Photographer Samantha Box posts on The Raw File with unbelievably intimate images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered homeless kids at the Sylvia’s Place shelter in New York City, with audio by Alexis Handwerker. Here’s one of the kids on wanting to live life as a woman:

If I die tomorrow, and I die with a college degree and a house, and I don’t have my sex change, my life would have meant nothing. If I die tomorrow, and I’m homeless, and all I have is my sex change, and I’ve never experienced love, my life would have mean [sic] everything, because the only thing that—what matters is that even if it’s for five seconds, those five seconds mean the world to me, because I was finally was able to live my life as the woman I feel I am, even for five seconds. Nothing else would matter.

Snowbound” by Lisa A. Robinson with MediaStorm for FotoFest. In seeking signs of life in snowy landscapes, photographer Robinson arrives on the scene after the transformational moment has already happened, leaving viewers to imagine the story that came before. Beautiful pictures, but we liked the audio here, too.

Rebecca Skloot on the new and engaging site ReadRollShow. In this video interview, Skloot explains how Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and the movie Hurricane influenced the development of her successful book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a story about the family of an African-American woman whose cancer cells changed the face of medicine. Here’s Skloot on the hard work of assembling a story when straight chronology won’t do:

I knew that I was going to do the jumping around, and it turns out that a lot of movies are structured like that. The movie Hurricane about Hurricane Carter, the boxer—that is the structure of my book. It has similar—three different narratives, and they are in some ways kind of similar stories. I was watching it one day just by coincidence, and then I went, “That’s my book. Oh, my God, that’s my book.”

And I kept saying—I was watching with my boyfriend, and I was like, “This is exactly what I want my book to do.” And he was like, “Shut up.” And he’s an actor, so he was like, “Storyboard it. Actually do it, and see what they did.” And so I did. I spent several days pressing play and pause, and play and pause, and I storyboarded the whole movie of Hurricane on the same three-colored index card system that I had with my book. And then I literally just laid my book on top of it to see what would happen…

Photo from “Invisible” courtesy Samantha Box/The Raw File

Photo from “Invisible” courtesy Samantha Box/The Raw File


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