On Friday, USC Annenberg’s first annual Global Media Festival will celebrate the many media genres the world has to offer. The event, held from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Annenberg Amphitheater, Room 204, will feature four panels exploring media, its challenges and triumphs across cultures, genres, societies, languages, time and industries. From the dramatic flair of the telenovela to the art of Chinese film, the festival reflects the global vibrancy that lies at the heart of USC, raising awareness of all that can be shared using the power of media.
The four 50-minute panels will feature accomplished media producers and academic experts as well as short screenings of their works. The Global USC panel will spotlight producers from USC student filmmakers — Manouchka Kelly Labouba of Gabon, Jean Paulo Lasmer of Brazil and Alberto Marenco Saenz of Colombia — all of whom will share their experiences of media production in countries around the world.
First-year graduate student Meng (Cassie) Wu, majoring in communication management, will lead the festival as the executive producer of the event.
“This festival is about producers of media from different parts of the world getting together and giving the audience, especially USC students, a chance to learn about the practices in producing media all over the world,” Wu said. “Currently, media is both global and highly segmented, so this is actually a chance to … [also] promote mutual understanding, tolerance and acceptance.”
But besides building bridges, media is all about sharing narrative.
“The one thing we want people to understand is that … there’s a lot we all share in common about the need to tell stories, though the way we tell them may be different. Fundamentally, our need to tell stories is human nature,” said Annenberg Professor David Craig. “The interesting thing for audiences to discover will be that the ways media is being produced have converged into almost the same format and medium, but the content itself still remains culturally, linguistically or regionally specific. The boundaries that divide us are opportunities for what can unite us.”
But as global as the event has turned out, the festival first took flight as a course project by students in this semester’s (CMGT 599) “Hollywood Production Culture” class taught by Craig. Students of (CMGT 559) “Global Hollywood,” another one of Craig’s courses, helped specifically coordinate the Chinese media panel.
Though planning for the event began as early as summer, the students stepped up to put together the entire event this fall. Split into planning, promotion, web and production committees, the class wasted no effort over the last few months to produce and launch an event of this magnitude.
In fact, Craig said he was “stunned” by the amount of talent in the classes that contributed to the event.
“I’ve been blown away. Students have been incredibly creative and have shown tremendous initiative. The website is one of the best that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They’ve worked very hard to secure some terrific talent to be a part of the festival itself, and I’m convinced this will come out brilliantly.”
The Chinese media panel features UC Santa Cruz Associate Professor Yiman Wang; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television scholar and Assistant Professor Sean Metzger; and Beijing Normal University representatives Yiwen Wang, Yan Zhang and Xing Zhou. Jordan Kerner, producer of Smurfs, and Amazon Studios’ Kevin Bannerman, a former executive at Fox Animation Studios and Disney, will speak on the Global Animation panel, alongside Candace Reckinger and Michael Patterson, faculty at the USC school of Cinematic Arts who directed a string of MTV hits including Suzanne Vega’s “Luka,” Sting’s “Be Still My Beating Heart” and Paula Abdul’s Grammy award-winning “Opposites Attract” music video.
Last but not least, the Mexican media panel “Soaps and Sensibilities” will showcase Carla Estrada and other premier creators of telenovelas, one of the most prolific television genres in Mexico. At the end of the event, the first-ever Media Maker Award will be delivered to Estrada, a renowned producer of soap operas and telenovelas in her own right.
Alex Ago, the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Director of Programming and Special Projects, will moderate the first three panels, while Laura Flores Ibinarriaga, a current graduate student at USC, will moderate “Soaps and Sensibilities.”
Elizabeth Price and Che Chester, both first-year graduate students studying communication management, acted as the heads of the promotion and planning committees, respectively.
The festival is, for Chester, an embodiment of media’s immense value.
“Media is a conveyance of ideas, understanding where people are coming from as they are conveying their ideas,” he said. “It’s huge. That’s why we’re here, to understand why things are being produced, whatever it is, even down to [tweets or social media].”
Price dreams big for this event.
“I hope that people’s horizons will be expanded,” she said. “I hope that their perspectives will be enlightened, their curiosity is increased and also that they feel a satisfaction from the panels offered. I hope that’s something that we continue, because I feel like it’ll be really successful and that it’s important, given that media is such an important thing in our lives today.”
Craig hopes to continue holding the festival for years to come.
“It will change every year with different panels, but the students will be producing this every year,” he said.
Wu shares the same vision, and is sure that “the meaning of the festival will expand, and be enriched … year after year.”
This first global festival seems perfect for USC, a school with one of the most diverse and cultural student bodies in the country.
As Chester said, “The panels are very global, but it’s still USC. It’s still about enriching our school, and I think it helps us all become more aware of the globalization going on outside of campus, and I think that should be the biggest takeaway.”
Admission to the Global Media Festival is free, but attendees must RSVP online.