The ride was a bit over two hours, and we waited for Edu to meet us at the station. We followed him to the Birmingham City University campus, which was brand new. I rarely get to see other cities when I travel abroad; In England I only know Bath besides London (can't believe I've never made it to Brighton yet).
To come to Birmingham was a total treat; to get to visit a foreign university was pretty awesome. I think Edu is doing his research in their Radio department (and I think we were in the communications/design/media college), all in the same conjoined buildings with 4 floors (3 stories plus ground floor). Rosana had been invited to come to this symposium with TV director Heenan Bhatti, who has worked on reality/documentary projects for channel 4 and the BBC, among other projects. I tagged along, and it was a pretty cool experience.
After watching 10 minutes of the second episode of "Make Bradford British" (it is a two-part series, two hours total), the group talked about related matters. I found it fascinating that the director kept referring to himself as a film-maker, even though he has never done what most people consider film; he also kept referring to his work as documentary, even though it was really reality TV (albeit one that seemed to be very complex and socially-conscious, and not gratuitous). He also kept talking about the cast as "characters" and the project development as a "story", in addition to using terms as pop-documentary, factual documentary, feature (referring to documentaries, and not narrative films, and from what I understood it had nothing to do with the length), and traditional documentaries. The accents in the symposium were varied, as students came from all over the globe (a very diverse environment), and the local accent was hard to understand at times. All of this made me think of the different types of languages, from a national or regional one, to an institutional one, to a disciplinary one, etc, all fascinating. It also made me wonder if the assumptions we all actually speak the same language (when in reality we do not), makes up some of the crises the example program aims to explore. "Make Bradford British" is a social experiment television program that tackles race/ethnic divides in British society, and observe what happens when people are displaced from their immediate, insular communities. I also found it interesting from the perspective of someone living in the U.S. who view Great Britain as a very well integrated society to see how that is not the case (afterwards, while talking with the director, he told me his views of America was that it was a very well integrated society). What I really respected him for was his treatment of the subject and the integrity with which he dealt with the people/cast/characters (he said he never shows footage that can ruin someone's life, unlike American reality TV, which seems to ONLY show such).
Here is a link to the show's description on the Channel 4 website. I am not sure people outside the UK will be able to watch it online.
We spent the entire afternoon at that, finishing past 5 pm, and then we tracked down Edu's office (I took some pictures of the campus, their classrooms were just amaazing, although a bit personality-less). I could dream of teaching in such facilities (teeming with students, everywhere, with very exciting and energetic faculty, the few I met); better, I can see this experience as a goal to where my department and university can head towards. Below are some pictures of their facilities.
We left to go walk around Birmingham, by then it was already dark. The city is so much larger than I expected, with a lot of paved walking boulevards in the city center, with tons of business (old and new), people (old and young), and interesting architecture (old and contemporary/tacky), so different from London in a way. The city center felt very hilly, and London at times seems so flat, it was a contrast. After getting a bit lost and redirected by a lovely young lady, who walked with us for about 15 minutes), we found ourselves back in the city center by the Christmas Market, which was modeled after the ones in Germany (I guess they are popular in the UK). It was such a contrast from the one in London, perhaps because the Birmingham was filled with locals (not tourists), and everyone seemed to be drunk. It reminded me a bit of Savannah during St. Patrick's, but as far as I knew there was no holiday there, just another thursday night. We walked around a bit the market and then stopped for some yummy mulled cider, and later to grab a dinner during a "curry night, which was also yummy.
Eventually we found our ways back to the train station (the city has more than one), and boarded out plane a bit after 9 pm. This train was smaller than the other one, still with outlets and wifi, but the seats were more cramped. We got to London late but managed to find all the underground trains needed to get home. The walk from the Oval station was quite lovely, as the night felt crisp in a good way. I was dead upon arrival and fell asleep right away, but unfortunately woke up very early.
- posted via iPad
Location:Halsmere Road,Lambeth,United Kingdom