April 27, 2021
Local filmmakers worked with scientists around the world to tell their stories
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, OWSD filmmaker Nicole Leghissa, like many of us, faced the new reality of having to bring her work home—a special challenge for someone whose work relies on traveling, conducting interviews, and getting to know the subjects of her films in order to bring their stories to light. She quickly landed on an innovative solution, though:
"I started to think about OWSD Visions when the pandemic forced us to re-think the way we work and how we create. I used to travel a lot to developing countries to film scientists' stories. The idea of transferring my experience to local filmmakers around the world came out naturally and easily. Social networks make visual stories easy to share, mobile phones make them easy to film. But science storytelling is more complicated. I felt that I could give some guidance on it."
Nicole worked with the OWSD Secretariat to identify four countries with very active OWSD National Chapters: Cameroon; Guatemala; Sri Lanka; and Zimbabwe. The National Chapters then reached out to local filmmakers—or in some cases, took on the project of producing the films themselves—and worked together with them to select women scientists in their countries with interesting stories to profile.
The results can be seen here: a microbiologist from Cameroon researching antimicrobial resistance of bacteria; an anthropologist from Guatemala who works with communities living in protected wilderness areas, helping them to live in harmony with conservation of natural resources; also from Guatemala, a biologist hoping to preserve native bee species; a neuroscientist from Sri Lanka who is striving to build her country's capacity to perform international-level research, in her own field and beyond; and a physicist from Zimbabwe who is developing a biomass-burning stove that will reduce dependency on firewood and cut indoor air pollution. Their stories show how women scientists from the developing world are tackling some of the greatest challenges facing us today, often with limited resources.
"This program has been for me a very vital and emotional experience. It was the right way to make my work develop and grow. I have this dream to create—with OWSD—a wide network of science storytellers around the world. Scientists' stories in developing countries need to be told because they matter and they can make a difference to local communities and to global sustainable development."
Nicole Leghissa's previous films produced for OWSD can all be found on OWSD's YouTube channel.
OWSD Visions Videos