i-Kooch: Interactive Narratives of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Tina Gharavi
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This will be a presentation of the Kooch Cinema Project that has been running since 2000, an education and media community project where members of a particularly isolated and demonized community use media to express their perspectives and views.

The project was launched by filmmaker, Tina Gharavi, herself an Iranian exile, following her first return to Iran 23 years later to produce a film for Channel Four TV, Mother/Country. To date, the group has produced over 20 short films.

A new phase of the project will see the development of an interactive narrative web project that will distribute their stories with an even wider audience on the www. The project will link into work with schools around the UK and other European Union countries.

The project has been attempting to address the imbalance of information about a highly stigmatized group. The project will be described with excerpts and some information about the effects on the community and the wider local population.

Keywords: Asylum Seeker, Refugee, Community Media, Digital Media
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Tina Gharavi

Lecturer, School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Tina Gharavi is an artist/writer/director/producer whose past work have screened at the Sundance Film Festival and on Channel Four. Shari Frilot, Sundance Programme, commenting on Gharavi’s Closer (2000) said ‘...it takes documentary to the next level’. Tina’s work is interested in the veracity of the image in documentary and fiction and combines intriguing improvisational and drama work as a way of developing languages for the storytelling. Her films have won awards and screened at many international film festivals and on broadcast channels. For nearly a decade, she has been involved in both formal and informal education. In 2000, Tina setup and established the Kooch Cinema Group, a community media training project, which is made up of asylum seekers and refugees participant from the Middle-East region based in the North of England. She started this project after returning to Iran to make a Channel Four commissioned documentary, Mother/Country, about returning to her mothers house 23 years since leaving. Along with several other newspapers, TimeOut selected Mother/Country for pick of the week and called it ‘genuinely moving.’ She has also recently written a feature screenplay, Ali in Wonderland, about Iranians on Tyneside (naturally, a comedy), through work developed with the Kooch group. Through her company, Bridge + Tunnel Productions, currently Tina is completing a documentary about the Yemeni Community in South Shields and the day Mohammad Ali got married in the local mosque. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious US National Endowment for the Arts residency in Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY. where she has completed a film, A Town Like Lackawanna, about the Muslim community post 9/11 in America.

Tina Gharavi was educated in the US and France. She is currently a Lecturer in English (Digital Media) at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In her spare time, Tina dreams of becoming a beekeeper.

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