(A special thanks to Jayne in Kabul for bringing this to my attention)
A new radio program has hit the airwaves in Afghanistan. “Let’s Build Our Village” is a soap opera that helps Afghans from Kabul to the rural regions learn about such development issues as democracy and women’s issues. The full article is from US News and World Report.
While development centered soaps may be new in Afghanistan, they have been used for years in other parts of the world. One particularly successful TV soap is called “Sexto Sentido.” Redlizardmedia.com describes it best this way: “If the characters of ‘Friends’ were teenagers, lived in Nicaragua, and had a social conscience to deal with personal and social problems and the importance of solidarity, the result would likely be “Sexto Sentido,” Nicaragua’s only homegrown novela. In just one season this ‘social soap’ has captured 70% of the TV audience in its time slot.”
In one episode the teens are in class and there is a lecture about HIV/AIDS. The director told the extras in the scene that the actors playing the lecturers actually were HIV positive. This way the extras would have genuine reactions, and some were afraid to shake hands. After the shoot the director told them the truth and discussed with them their feelings and opinions. This “after the show” discussion was also shot and aired in the series.
There is a documentary about the development and creation of Sexto Sentido, called Novela, Novela. The official site is in Spanish, but a great Enlish description can be found on the Media that Matters Film Festival Website.