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Street Culture In Motion: Interview With Swedish Filmmaker Teddy Goitom

By Cyndi Amaya | June 6, 2012

Photo: StockTown

It’s often said that the way to get a real grasp of a new culture is to take a look at its street culture. In a country’s streets is where you’ll most likely find its true popular culture, what interests its people, its local art, and its most genuine food. Very often, it’s from the streets where the hottest new movements come from and the first to witness a phenomenon in its original street stage are sometimes only a privileged few.

But one media company is working to change that “privileged few” concept and are drawing attention to street culture from all around the world in hopes to educate people of new countries, cultures, and arts through curated videos that anyone can view online. That company is STOCKTOWN and one of the masterminds behind STOCKTOWN.com is Swedish filmmaker Teddy Goitom.

Teddy along with other film friends and enthusiasts created STOCKTOWN, a curated video magazine for culture in motion and since its recent start has continued to grow in popularity, eliminating the boundaries and cultural walls between countries forming a worldwide community of viewers. Just recently, STOCKTOWN was proud to announce their launch of the newly renovated site and in honor of Swedish National Day today, we want to bring attention to this awesome video web site that was born on the shores of Sweden with a one-on-one interview with this Teddy Goitom himself.

Check out our interview with Teddy below and if you’re in New York today you can see STOCKTOWN in action at Show & Tell NYC, where they will screen their Stocktown X South Africa film followed by Show & Tell session of curated videos, a visit from legendary street photographer Jamel Shabazz, and various DJ performances. Click here for more details.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and Stocktown.

I’m a filmmaker based in Sweden and I run a network called Stocktown. It’s a network of filmmakers and videotaste makers, not only based in Sweden but internationally. Our focus is documenting culture and we’ve been doing it since 1997, not only through film but also through exhibitions, concerts, and lately (through the last 5 years or so) through photography and video documentation of what’s going on in the urban cities around the world.

Stocktown.com is a video magazine. It’s created for people who want to share their videos and write about them. It’s about finding interesting videos with the theme of street culture. Street culture nowadays is very broad. It can be documentaries, it can art, it can be dance, it can be music. You can find street culture anywhere and that’s what we want to show; that’s our main focus.

What are some of the countries you’ve shot your documentary in?

The current project I’m working on is in South Africa and it’s called “Stocktown X South Africa” and it’s part of a longer TV series. Two years ago we started to have a research lab about where we wanted to find out what is going on in major cities of Africa including Johannesburg and we found that there is so much activity going on today. We found a lot of interesting photographers and music and we found that there was a creative underground revolution going on.  So we decided to go there also because it was the world cup last year and thought that we would combine the two things.

We went there for six weeks and made the documentary as portraits of people with creative talents. Everything from music, fashion, film… it is about their story. The documentary is about how these creative individuals see themselves in the future and what they think the future holds for them. It is about how they see themselves today and tomorrow. It is a lot about the future. It isn’t different from young people’s visions that we meet in the US or Paris or anywhere else.

We also featured new music genres that are evolving. There is a music genre called Lim Pop.  There are also video gamers and a lot of interesting things happening with them. That is why we chose to go to South Africa. I also feel that it is important for me to note that I have done this with my friend Benjamin Taft; he is my co director.

What are other cities you are featuring and what is the focus in each city?

We will highlight the animation scene and visual graphics in Kenya, Nairobi. People working with visual graphics and animation are some of our major focuses for Nairobi. There is a lot happening in the digital arts scene. It is great because you wouldn’t think to head to Kenya for the digital art scene. We did become frustrated with those stereotypical stories that came out everyday about violence and crime… we are not denying that those things are there, but we wanted to showcase stuff that we are interested in like music.  We didn’t make this out of a political decision; we decided to do this because music and other creative outlets are topics that we are interested in.

What exactly drew you to street culture?

You know, it’s people. I mean I have always been fascinated by people’s fascination in itself. People are either sneaker collectors or into art. I am always interested in how the underdog develops into something huge. I liked documenting it instead of being involved in the culture. It is always interesting and I’ve seen it grow. You can find it in Cambodia and South Africa because the digit era is here. People use the Internet now. It was difficult in the 1980′s and even the 1990′s because we only had access to television and videos. The Internet is basically accessible everywhere now.

What is a reoccurring theme that you have noticed from the people that you have interviewed?

The thing that I saw similar, for example, in South Africa is that there is a great awareness about what is going on in other countries.  For example, they are giving us links to what is happening in Japan.  Young people want to go beyond being just part of their neighborhood and their local society. They also want to be part of the world and there is no limit. People want to know how they can get by in other countries as well.

Did you see them also drawing from their tradition customs or also breaking away from that and going into a different direction?

They reinvented their traditional culture in South Africa through music. The beats are from South Africa, but we can hear that they have taken influences from other cultures. There is a mixed culture–that’s what is going on. You see that in all types of genres, especially fashion and art. It becomes something new and that is always happening in the field of art. They are not reinventing something, but they are remixing something to make it new. In street culture we are living in a remix culture, trying to find our own identity. We are also trying to find other places where we can feel identified.

For more information about StockTown X South Africa, check out Teddy’s web site here. Check out a clip of the movie below…

Stocktown X South Africa Trailer from Stocktown on Vimeo.

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