Bridging the Gap

“Para-ecologists” are members of rural land user communities in southern Africa. They have been employed and trained by the interdisciplinary biodiversity research project BIOTA. Para-ecologists work in the field of biodiversity monitoring and knowledge exchange between land users and researchers. This documentary film has been conceived and filmed by BIOTA para-ecologists during a training workshop in Nieuwoudtville / South Africa in April 2009. With this film they aim to introduce the para-ecologists programme to a broader audience and to present their skills and knowledge to other research projects, conservation and development agencies and other NGOs.

The film „Bridging the Gap“ is based on a participatory approach. The protagonists not only shot the film themselves, but also took part in the conception and implementation of the project. The group first discussed and agreed upon the focus and key messages of the film. After that, the participants were introduced to camera and sound recording as well as to different documentary styles. During the shooting of the film, they took over different roles such as director, cinematographer or actor.

The results of such a participatory approach are films by the protagonists about themselves. The participants implement their issues in their language according to their media preferences. The process of filmmaking initiates intensive discussion amongst all participants and constitutes a high degree of identification with the project. These films thus generate alternative perspectives on the respective subject matter. Especially in intercultural contexts, this contributes to high levels of acceptance amongst local audiences.


A film by Reginald Christiaan, Martin Gruber, Richard Isaacks, Donna Kotze, Marianna Lot, Snake Vilho Mtuleni, Robert S. Mukuya, Wynand Pieters, Ute Schmiedel, Sebedeus Swartooi, Jeannete Swartbooi


Germany/South Africa 2009

20 min.

Distribution: BIOTA AFRICA