After winning the Gold Award in Cinematography for her short documentary ‘Isda, Lambat, Daang Paliit’ (‘Fish, Net, Narrowing Road’) at the recent FACINE 29: Filipino International Cine Festival 2022, USA, UE college student Anjella Gieneena B. Cruz has received another international recognition, as one of only eight international fellows of C/O Berlin and StrudelMediaLive on Creating Environmental Portraits That Tell Powerful Stories!
Miss Cruz, who is a fourth-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) major in Visual Communication student of the UE College of Fine Arts, Architecture and Design (CFAD), enjoyed that international fellowship last November 9 to December 14, 2022.
That monthlong, online educational program guided international students in telling stories about people by photographing them in their own environments and how to incorporate space to reveal intimate details. Miss Cruz is the lone Asian artist fellow to have received the festival’s Heather B. Mattera Scholarship.
Part of that scholarship is full tuition coverage to participate in a StrudelMediaLive class, which features a private mentoring session with Anja Hitzenberger, an Austrian visual artist working mainly with photography, video, and installation. Ms. Hitzenberger, whose current focus is on urban spaces and changing environments and how these changes affect society, is the founder of StrudelMediaLive, a program of live, online, and interactive photography classes that take place in real time.
The StrudelMediaLive instructors are a diverse group based in New York City and internationally. They shared their knowledge and skills in subjects like storytelling, long-term projects, documentary photography, environmental and self-portraits, and composition.
“Narratives of Internally Displaced Women through Participatory Photography” was the work by Miss Cruz had made under her creative research class in the UE CFAD, and which she submitted in applying for the said scholarship. Today, she continues to undergo mentorship and focus-group discussions with her fellow scholars, to provide counseling for her upcoming thesis on the anthropological narratives of internally displaced women.
Per Miss Cruz, as the country overcomes the consequences of the pandemic, it is also important for young photographers like her to advocate for the passage of the IDP Rights Bill for internally displaced persons, to include the marginalized sector in both national and local frameworks for recovery. Thus, her creative research aims to give a platform to IDPs to showcase their narratives through participatory photography. It also aims to recognize the effects of conflict on women, ascend in their roles on a societal perspective, and empower them into being influential voices of change amidst various crises in the Philippines.
As part of the scholarship, Miss Cruz was required to attend all the sessions online in Eastern time. She also created six photo sets for the whole program, centering on the Filipino queer experience. Miss Cruz also presented this during the first week of the session and since different nationalities have diverse perceptions about queerness, she created a visual and observational narrative about the topic to further understand the culture of queer individuality in the Philippines.
As a young promising artist from Malabon City, Miss Cruz mainly works with photography and film, depicting narratives centered on the representation of social voices from different spaces—big or small—that she belongs to. She believes that all life is hardwired to interconnectedness—and so, to breathe as an artist, we must be conscious of the human essence and human capacity to communicate stories.
Aside from this international scholarship, Miss Cruz’s short film ‘Isda, Lambat, Daang Paliit’ has received numerous accolades in local and international festivals. Her earlier, second short film, ‘The Loud Quietude’, was part of the curated International Art Exhibition for Solidarity at the Alphabet Art Centre, the New Museum of Networked Art, Agricola de Cologne at artvideoKOELN. She was also one of the students at Mini Film Festival Malaysia’s “Documentary Workshop with Ditsi Carolino,” the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Cinemalaya Foundation’s Storytelling Masterclass with Ricky Lee, and was a participating artist at the ASEAN Youth Forum’s “YUWANA Zine 6th Edition”.
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