Narrative Justice

Lisa Russell focuses on narrative films for justice. On Friday, Lisa Russell took the SwitchPoint stage to discuss her perspective and share her work. We'd become fast friends so I was thrilled to hear her present her perspective without being peppered by my questions.

Lisa has her masters in Public Health and began her career doing disaster relief in Kosovo and Albania. On her first assignment she noticed a difference between the way things happened in the field and the way those same activities were reported back. 

She began to make films to do her part to correct that imbalance. 

I am in love with Lisa's way of storytelling. Lisa presented a clip from the movie Poder, a short movie about two teenage girls who work with local government to change the opportunities for girls in a Guatemalan village. The movie is a true story acted by those who made the change happen. 

Lisa has no interest in making sad documentaries so films like Poder are refreshing with their cartoons and reenactments. Here's the trailer for the film Poder

¡PODER! is a new film by Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell that tells the real life story of two indigenous girls in Guatemala who challenged their elected officials to ensure girls had access to education and healthcare.

A few principles she discussed:

  • by filming someone as someone who needs help, you perpetuate a power imbalance 
  • groups will continue to be marginalized if we keep making films about how they are marginalized
  • if you can change the narrative of the story to focus on the solutions instead of the problems, you start to change the outcome

Here is the collection of the #SwitchPoint tweets during her presentation. 

Watch the movie. It's great (and just 16 minutes long so you've got plenty of time to do it)!


Designing for the Fringe

Lisa provides a platform for people who are on the fringe to tell their stories. By working with them to create the narrative, those individuals are empowered and evolve from a position in the fringe, or those who are disenfranchised, to a position of power. 

For another example of her work check out a group poem written about the opportunities girls and women have in the future and created for "I Sell the Shadow."  

On March 7th, 2015, "I Sell the Shadow" with World YWCA and UN Women, hosted creative writing workshops with 150+ young women and girls from around the world. The workshops, as part of the pre-CSW Young Women and Girls Forum: Inspiring Leadership, focused on the critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action and culminated in this Group Poem written to the girl child born in 2030.

More about Lisa Russell

And if you'd like to read more about Lisa and her accomplishments:

A few of Lisa's films: