Novela, Novela is a short documentary that chronicles the creation and impact of Sexto Sentido (Sixth Sense), a ground-breaking series in Nicaragua that grapples with controversial themes like domestic violence and homophobia in the face of a heavily conservative culture and media. By Elizabeth Miller, "Novela, Novela" was a winner of the Women's Rights Award.
Puntos de Encuentro (Meeting Points), a Nicaraguan-based non-profit, were the producers of a youth radio program and a wildly popular magazine called La Boletina. The organization has promoted women's and young people's rights for over ten years, and worked to influence public opinion and social norms through progressive media projects.
Recognizing the popularity of telenovelas in Nicaragua, Puntos de Encuentro seized the opportunity to create one of the first Nicaraguan-produced telenovelas and use it for social goals:
"take radical, political and social ideas about human rights, about democracy, about respect for differences, about the right to live without violence, without discrimination, quite radical ideas, and put them out into the mainstream." - Amy Bank, Puntos de Encuentro
Elizabeth Miller's documentary "Novela, Novela" covers the origin and impact of the show, with a particular focus on the show's handling of domestic violence issues and gay rights issues.
The show attempts to raise awareness of social issues and solutions. For example, the story of Elena, a young girl dealing with domestic violence at home, is used to raise awareness of Law 230, a law against family violence.
"By showing one girl's struggle with the violence of her father towards her mother and then her own relationship, as well as the support she receives from her friends in recognising the signs of violence, the video provides a forum for discussion on how young men and women can stop relationship-based gender violence." -
Dating Without Violence
, The Communication Initiative Network
There's also a great quote by Amy Bank on the importance of changing mass media portrayals of men's and women's roles.
"If you want equal rights for men and women, you need to be able to change traditional stereotypes and gender roles of men and women. And if every time a woman goes out of the traditional female role, or guy goes out of the traditional male role, they get called dyke or queer, and that is a bad thing, then people will not ever go out of the box, they'll just stay doing exactly what they're expected to do in order to not get called that."
Telenovelas are extremely popular all over the world, and could be a great avenue to popularizing new ideas regarding gender roles, violence and safety.
"From the Sandinista revolution to telenovelas: the case of Puntos de Encuentro" and
"Media Matters: More About Novela, Novela from Director Elizabeth Miller"