Mumbai movie-makers

From left, Megan Keaveney and Sibylle Freiermuth

Last year just before graduation, Megan Keaveney and Sibylle Freiermuth were awarded a Davis Projects for Peace prize of $10,000 to work with the Women of India Network (WIN). They planned to make a couple of documentaries that chronicled the stories of women in Mumbai. The films would be viewed in WIN health clinics and would encourage women to take part in classes at the clinic and make use of WIN’s resources.

But when Keaveney and Freiermuth arrived in India, the director of the WIN program told them that he’d had second thoughts. Together, they decided there would be more benefit from a documentary that profiled the WIN program, creating a sort of template for use by other groups with similar goals.

Neither Freiermuth nor Keaveney had any experience as filmmakers before this project, so before they left for India, they contacted Christian Faur, Denison’s Vail director of collaborative technologies, for some lessons and tips.

Faur taught them how to use Final Cut Pro, instructed them on how to light a scene and, most importantly, to always ‘mic’ the set. (No matter how quiet a room might seem to be, there’s always some ambient noise.) Keaveney and Freiermuth absorbed their lessons well, check out the video to see the results of their summer in India.

Their mantra quickly became “be open and flexible.”

The two planned interviews with directors and staff in the WIN program. They also visited many of the clinics to interview women they met there, and an overall theme emerged — personal empowerment. As Keaveney and Freiermuth talked to their subjects, time and again they saw women educating themselves and rising above challenges that, without the support of their community, would have been insurmountable.

“Before joining WIN, I didn’t even have the confidence to cross the road,” said Sunita Subhash-Ganagg during one of the interviews. She is now a junior supervisor responsible for four health workers and 31 self-help groups.

The completed documentary exceeded all their expectations. Just before leaving, Freiermuth and Keaveney held a screening for the contributors, who gave the film a resounding “thumbs-up.”

The recent grads also were able to keep their expenses lower then anticipated and donated the remainder of their Davis funds to WIN. The money will finance one of the clinics for a year.

As for what’s next, Keaveney will join the Peace Corps. This March she’ll go to Jamaica, where she’ll spend more than two years working with a HIV prevention program. And Freiermuth will head to China where she will teach English to Chinese students. They’re both keeping international work in their future but are incorporating the lesson they learned in India this summer. “Be open and flexible.”

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3:29 PM December 12, 2011

Jennifer Low wrote:

Cheers to these loving, brillant women! TheDEN definitely needs to keep up with what these two are up to. :)

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11:35 PM December 15, 2011

Dana Macy (class of 80) wrote:

I am so proud of you two for doing such wonderful thoughtful things for women around the world. It does make a difference. I love Denison and was reading your story. As of right now, my husband, 3 kids (ages 16,14 and 13) and I are traveling around the world for a year. We have been to India and it is, as someone said to me today, “an assault on your senses” meaning it is extreme poverty, dirty, bright colors, people everywhere, smelly, beautiful in its cultures and overwhelming in many ways.

We found a unique place in Uganda, Africa that you two should know about. I am happy to email you more information but its a little orphanage of 26 children run by an African woman in her late 20′s named, Remi. She is amazing and when we return from our year of travel, I am going to concentrate on raising money for them. Many girls from Germany volunteer out of college to go there for a couple of months or longer to help with the children. Two of them are HIV positive and of course they are all the cutest, most b’ful children.

My family and I are currently in Vietnam and heading East from here through Asia. I loved Denison and have been a part of DART (Denison Alumni Recruiting Team) since I graduated. Please email me back if you have time and continue doing all of the wonderful things you are doing.
All the best, Dana (Nungesser Macy)

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3:02 AM April 11, 2014

Prasad Joshi wrote:

“Be Open & Flexible” – It sounds like a perfect slogan for lifestyle of Mumbai City. I am in Mumbai since my birth. I am a professional travel blogger and currently working for http://www.joguru.com/. I also have written much useful information about Mumbai city on JoGuru.Com.
Lifestyle of Mumbai of Mumbai city is really much fast and competitive. Still we all should salute to spirit and strength of Mumbai citizens. I love my City. Thanks for the post.

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