UON students head to the Gannat International Folklore Festival in France

Six Bachelor of Communication students from the University of Newcastle have been selected for an international media internship to film and photograph the International Folklore Festival in Gannat, France from 16 to 30 July 2014. The festival is one of the largest gatherings of the folk and traditional artists across the world, which aims at promoting and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the world. This year around 400 artists and 500 volunteers from 20 countries will be participating in the festival, which is supported by UNESCO and CIOFF (International Council for Folklore Festivals).

The students will arrive in Gannat, a small town five hours from Paris, on 16 July and will spend two weeks interning under the mentorship of media production lecturer Dr Vikrant Kishore. This project has been possible due to the Federal Governments’ Short Term Mobility Program (STMP) funding and support from UON’s Hunter Creative Industries and Technology Centre (HCIT).

During the internship the students will be filming a documentary capturing the global diversity of cultures and will also work with the French media team to help with the coverage of the festival.

The ten-day ‘Festival Les Cultures du Monde’ is organised by the French National Association of Cultures and Traditions to celebrate and preserve international folk heritage. The festival is one of the largest gatherings of folk performers in the world and attracts around 65,000 people and groups from over 20 countries.

Dr Kishore has been involved with the festival for 20 years, and said he is looking forward to the students gaining media experience on an international scale.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for the students of the University of Newcastle to experience the diverse cultures of the world all in one place and to work along with international media teams to cover the festival,” Dr Kishore said.

“The documentary aims to capture how the Festival has become a site for cultural intermingling and globalisation, but still enables an understanding and provides encouragement in sustaining and protecting cultural heritages,” he said.

The six students participating in the festival are Melissa Wilson, Josh King, Jaime-Maree Kelly, Elliana Lawford, Chris Wedlock and Tayla Angel.

Final year communication student and proud Aboriginal woman Elliana Lawford says she is looking forward to enriching her cultural knowledge at an international level, and further developing her media skills.

“The experience is such an amazing opportunity which will enhance our media skills and allow us to work alongside talented individuals from all over the world,” Ms Lawford said.

“I’ve grown up with my own traditional dance and dreamtime so I’m really excited I now have the opportunity to experience the dance and performance of other cultures, whilst also getting to put the theory of my communication degree into action.”

Head of School and Director of the HCIT, Dr Anne Llewellyn, said the international experience should assist the students with their future careers.

“This is a valuable opportunity for these students to apply their studies on an international level and gain experience working with other volunteers and media from around the world. They’ll be able to develop intensive media production skills on the ground and learn how to work at a highly skilled and fast-paced level, which are crucial skills employers look for in graduates,” Dr Llewellyn said.


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