Stories From The Field: Rural Innovations, Food Security and Women’s Empowerment

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Daniela Kon

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Nicolas Philibert


What motivated you to make your impact video?

I was commissioned to produce 6 films for the United Nations GCARD (Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development). RDA’s Director Zacharia, was one of the stakeholders I interviewed and his program blew my mind.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

I had a Sony A1, a Manfrotto tri and monopod, and a set of sony radio mics. It was all I was able to carry.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

I had Sallahuddin, a wonderful cultural advisor and translator with me without whom this would never have been possible. Women are rarely asked to be in the spotlight in rural Bangladesh and a woman with a camera had also never been seen before in some of the areas we worked in. Sallahudin was essential in getting permission from husbands, community leaders and members to allow me to shoot.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

I was commissioned to briefly feature the organisation and didn’t expect to find such an amazing agricultural and women’s empowerment program when I went to see their work in the field.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

I had several, but I will never forget – I asked the husband, what he thought of the new found entrepreneurial skills of his wife, and he answered: Seed good. Crop good. Wife Good, everything good!


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Respect and engage the communities you’re working with. Manage their expectations of what they are participating in. The process of production is more important than the story you’re telling. You create relationships with and for people in local communities while making a film – this is probably the biggest and most important impact you will have. It’s how you lay the foundations or strengthen the ties for the goals you want to achieve with your film.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Being moved and inspired by the stories, the honesty and integrity of strangers.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

Sweat bands. they hold pens, batteries, chip cards – it helps to carry everything you need immediately on your arms.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

The Rural Development Academy (RDA) is a specialized rural development institution in the Bogra District, in Bangladesh for training, research and action research. It was established in 1974 and is pioneering action research and seed management programs that provide skill training and job creations for women across rural Bangladesh.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

It was the highest impact project I ever got to feature in a film. It invests in people and their own abilities to take themselves out of poverty, it uses tools that are in the person’s immediate vicinity (not making them dependent on external materials or donations) and it empowers women in ways that affect the economic stability and food security of their families and entire community.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

I remember that it would always get darker and darker in my lens about 5 minutes into shooting because more and more villagers started to surround the camera to see what was going on in there – and – I have never seen traffic like in Dhaka anywhere else on the planet.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Rural innovations need to be taken much more seriously – and programs like this need a spotlight to be scaled and replicable.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

1) The role of women in food security

2) If amazing programs like this exist, why don’t we hear about them and why are these practices not adopted by every large non-profit working on the issue around the globe?

3) Why is this a high-impact program


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

RDA continues to train women in seed selection and has received some local government recognition for their work.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Learn more about RDA programs and Zacharia’s work:


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:




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