The University of Michigan’s School of Education will be screening the award-winning documentary “Little Stones,” directed by Sophia Kruz, an alum of the University. The film finds its way back to Ann Arbor, after being released in March of this year, but this time with an exciting twist. Kruz, in conjunction with Darin Stockdill, the design coordinator for the School of Education’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research, and the School of Education, will host a workshop for teachers to debut a curriculum used in conjunction with the film in both schools and communities nationwide.
“Little Stones” is a documentary that features four women in different third-world countries who use the arts to fight against gender inequality in their country. Indeed, the documentary tells the story of Panmela Castro, a graffiti artist using her craft to speak out against domestic violence in Brazil; Sohini Chakraborty, a woman in India who uses dance to help victims of self trafficking reclaim their bodies; Fatou Diatta aka Sister Fa, a Senegalese rapper using hip hop and rap to speak out about the practice of genital mutilation in West Africa and Anna Taylor, an American fashion designer who gives impoverished women in Kenya jobs making high-fashion clothing. Kruz, in an interview with The Daily asked, “Who doesn’t like art? I think that (there is an) inherent humanity in art that draws people in a builds community, and you can channel that positive energy into fruition.”
This documentary strives to go beyond a simple screening by giving its viewers solutions and tools to become more educated in the matters presented in the film and ways that its viewers can become active in the dialogue against gender violence internationally.
“I think it’s so important to tell not just stories about the problems, but to tell stories about solutions so you can inspire people, and then once people are inspired to find ways that they can get help,” Kruz said. “Everyone has something that they’re good at. It may not be graffiti, but it might be you’re a really good chef and you care a lot about refugee issues. So you could be hosting dinners for refugees in your community.”
The creative team now announces their new addition to the documentary: an educational toolkit, which will be presented during a teacher development workshop at the School of Education on Dec. 9.
The educational toolkit was developed by Stockdill and a team of two undergraduate students and a high school student. It includes three parts: a curriculum geared toward high school students, one geared toward a larger community setting and a third section that serves as a resource for those who want to take further action.
“It’s a very powerful and moving film. It has great potential to be interesting and engaging and entertaining, at the same time, it is very educational and it has a lot of potential to develop student’s thinking about an important topic: gender-based violence,” Stockdill said.
The film, in conjunction with the educational toolkit, aims to transform the way that people think about social activism.
“One of the goals of the toolkit is to get students to use these international stories as an entryway — to get students to think about what is happening in my community and ‘what can I do about it?’" Stockdill explained. "So they are not just learning about it, but we are hoping to inspire them to take action, especially through the arts … Trying to both inspire students to take action and get involved and use their talents to make a possible impact on their community. That’s always been a passion of mine.”
Stockdill uses his background as an educator and the eyes of the rest of the creative team to ensure the most flexible and accessible curriculum. “Little Stones” is a documentary that is a manifestation of activism through art, itself.
“The goal of the whole thing is to celebrate the film and to celebrate the film, the amazing piece of art that it is, and to start conversations, to get people talking about gender based violence not just as a global issue, but as a local issue," Stockdill said. "Not just donating money to international projects… but using art and taking action at home.”