In Search of Lake Wobegon - At the time this came out in 2000, I found it to be a compelling and innovative multi-media presentation. Unlike the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS), this story was produced by a well-known media organization, National Geographic, and told by a respected author, Garrison Keillor using professional photographs created specifically for the story.However, like CDS stories, this is a personal story and reveals the author's 'truth' behind his fictional town of Lake Wobegon.
This American Life, around the same time that I watched In Search of Lake Wobegon, I also was introduced to This American Life. I remember reading statements by Ira Glass explaining how his radio show was about ordinary, common American people and themes. Each show would be centered on a theme told in several 'acts' or stories, like the Babysitting episode. He also encouraged the journalists to share their personal reactions--of laughter, surprise, doubt. I like this quote from the website because it highlights what is different about radio stories: "This American Life is produced for the ear and designed to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page" Unlike CDS, This American Life stories are primarily told through professional writers and journalists, a much different approach than the Radio Diaries movement. which sees the power in giving everyday people a microphone. Like CDS this movement is about DIY stories. The audio technology is fairly simple, and allows a certain amount of anonymity that visual story telling -- whether through photos or video lacks. Years later, I still remember listening to diary of a 21-year old women suffering from cystic fibrosis, "My so called Lungs," by Laura Rothenberg.
Similar to the raw emotions and ever-present mortality found in Laura's story, I was touched by the YouTube video produced by Ben Breedlove telling about his near death experiences using not audio, but words written on cards. I was impacted by his serenity and how simple he told a profound story. A few other films worth mentioning include a short I saw at the Full Frame film fesival, Love Supreme (2001), the filmmaker depicted his mother preparing samosas (a common, everyday meal) without any narration or words. I was surprised to learn that the stylistic inspiration for this personal and loving film was Raging Bull. Another power festival film is Melba William's short story about her father and his experiences in the Vietnam War, A Thousand Words.