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Full transcript follows
David: Hi, I’m David Bell from the Trinity at Waiaki Learning Centre for Live On Air. I’ve got with me in LA, Vincent Vittorio, who’s a talented film-maker/Director and has just put together a new documentary about life in the world’s biggest refugee camp - Warehoused. Tell us all about it, Vincent.
Vincent: Thanks so much for having me on. We’re grateful to be able to be storytellers in this day and age that can [0:40] these worlds in the storytelling we do in documentaries. So, Warehoused is a documentary that looks at the Dadaab Refugee Camp, in Dadaab, Kenya. It’s one of the world’s largest refugee camps. Several years ago we had the opportunity to go there and share some of the stories of people inside the camp, and really give audiences an understanding of the plight that a lot of the refugees are up against.
It’s a very unique situation, because as you know in the world today everybody’s kind of looking at this refugee situation differently, and it’s less understood as what it was 40-50 years ago. I feel like our goal with the film is really to humanise these refugees that people sometimes are not realising are just like you and I, and are just trying to find safety from war, from famine, from things that are keeping them from being like you and I. This is a situation where the documentary hopes to give people a better understanding of the crisis.
David: Yes, the world really is in a much more precarious state at present. Vincent, you’re very skilled at what you do. What drives you to get inside of these complex and very moving situations?
Vincent: I think it’s the power to be able to unveil topics to people. I hear all the time that sometimes people wished they knew more about something, and I feel like with the distrust in the United States as well as the world necessarily, in journalism there is a greater respect for documentary storytelling. So, I think that’s really what drives us; we’re able to get people to begin to ask questions, or want to look deeper into something. Not all documentaries are the same; some have more of a voice than others.
I think that even the ones with the voice, even if it’s something you disagree with, it at least gets you to ponder what does this mean? I love using Mike Moore as an example, which a lot of people put him in a box that’s more of a large form editorial, which I might be able to agree with, but with that, even if you disagree with his perspective, it’s getting you to look deeper into a topic - getting you to want to know more. I feel like we’re in such a - the age of information; there’s so much content out there that we can being to enter into those conversations that our films can hopefully bring people to.
David: There’s a lot of creative energy in every genre of film-making, but I think in documentary you’re throwing together so many diverse elements. What’s the spark that gets you up in the morning - gets you going?
Vincent: I think it’s a combination of just realising that we’re all here with a purpose to contribute to something bigger. It’s what kind of gets me going every day to make me put the hours in and get with the people that I get to, and I think that it’s always been a calling of mine; I always felt like, as even a young boy, the power of storytelling is something that always intrigued me to want to go further.
So I feel like that energy in me that really wants to go deeper with it, and I think that’s one of the reason why, as well as a film-maker myself, and [I meet 4:29] so many friends or people in this network that know I want to just help them along the way, even if it’s something that I’m not a part of, by helping them be prepared for reaching a larger audience with a film, or making a better film. I think we’re put here to leave something, but have a large impact on the people that come after us, as much as we’re [4:54] each day able to truly help them to have a better understanding about these topics, or to emotionally connect with something.
David: I just wonder how difficult it is to promote some of the documentaries that you’ve done with the change of political situation in the United States. Many people around the countries perceive, in the Trump era, the new President saying, America first and then everyone else is second. With this, there’s been such a change of direction, it makes me wonder how hard it will be to get the kind of documentaries that you’re making out there in the public arena.
Vincent: Well, it’s always a risky thing to kind of [5:43], but I do want to suggest that while our new President is much different than anyone we’ve had previous, the majority vote still went to the losing candidate. With that being said, I think it’s important to realise while we are divinized on political backgrounds and ideological beliefs, there is a common ground that we all share with certain things; while we’re different because one person voted for Donald Trump or one person voted for Hillary or Bernie or whoever, there’s still [6:29] that are there, and I think that we want to look at it as a very black and white thing, but it’s not. So, in our films I think that people try to put you in a box of being one way or the other, but I like to always go back to a story I read on the United States Tax Code.
We had a lot on the film that were [6:51] to Steve Forbes to Mike Huckabee. I remember I was speaking at an NYU film school - NYU law school, and I had a guy stand up at the Q&A, and he goes, I hate Mike Huckabee but you had me agreeing with him - how did you do this? My answer was very matter of fact; I didn’t do anything. I’m just not taking your words out of context, and I’m not just taking one short byte and getting your to try to run with that - I’m challenging you as a viewer - as an audience to take this information and go further.
I think that’s one of the beauties of what we get to do as documentary film-makes; bring people to these worlds to ask these questions. So, while it is interesting that the new administration is about America first, and this protectionist idea that maybe doesn’t seem to hold up, I want to stay positive because 1) there’s nothing I can do, and 2) I think that at the end of the day, even the people that look to have completely separate views from your own can still be a partner - can still be a team-mate, and you have to find the good in any situation.
David: That’s a great attitude. Thank you so much for talking to us down here in New Zealand, Vincent. We wish you all the best with how your crowd source funding goes for finishing off Warehoused. Just keep doing it, Vincent. Just keep doing it. Thank you so much for talking to us.
Vincent: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me on.