the connected baby crosses the ocean

In two days time, the connected baby premieres in New York. I can only describe the speed at which things are moving with this film as surreal.

Indeed, that surreal sense extends to more than just speed. Last weekend being Thanksgiving, I was with good friends on the East Coast of the USA. Our meal was complete with all the traditional trimmings, including two deep dish apple pies – each with a crust on top and bottom. Unbeknownst to me, the chef had taken it upon her creative self to prick out patterns on the top crusts. I was astounded to find that, when the pies were placed side by side, we were treated to a culinary rendition of the connected baby! Here were a mum and baby, smiling back at one other, from pie to pie, each with their tongue sticking out. Here essentially was the DVD cover, reproduced in pastry glory! My immense thanks go to the chef, Ruthanna Hooke, for her seasonal innovation.

The impending New York event has taken our small team up a gear and you can now find the connected baby on Twitter and on Facebook. We’ve sent out a press release, and yesterday morning I gave a recorded interview to the Executive Director of Kindred Community.

I thought that the best way to include everyone in the buzz of New York would be to forward on the contents of all that activity.
– For those of you who are into social media, look us up in your chosen format.
– For those of you who aren’t into, say, Twitter, but like downloading podcasts, feel free to access the interview on kindredcommunity. If you listen throughout the full 45 minutes, you’ll find me talking about issues I’ve explored in previous blogs, including Unicef reports, the London riots, and my dislike of the term ‘skills’.
– And for those of you who like your news in the old-fashioned form of published newspapers, below you’ll find the press release we sent out yesterday.

What I am learning in the course of all this activity is just how much growing interest there really is out there—not just about our film, but about the importance of the early years. I look forward to letting you all know where the discussion in New York takes us.

Press release: Dundee documentary to premiere in New York

A documentary made in Dundee Scotland, and featuring Dundee families, is due to premiere in New York on 30 November 2011. The film, entitled the connected baby, demonstrates just how emotionally connected babies are from birth.

The film was produced jointly by Mr. Jonathan Robertson, independent film-maker based in Fife, and Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk, a research psychologist with expertise in infant communication. Their unusual collaboration began five years ago, when they met as staff members at the University of Dundee. It blossomed when The British Psychological Society awarded them a grant in 2008 from their Public Engagement Fund.

Dr Zeedyk said, “The film aims to show just how tuned in babies are to the movements, rhythms, and facial expressions of other people. When you look closely, you begin to see that in the most ordinary of circumstances – catching sight of themselves in the mirror, being picked up, nappy changes, playing with siblings. So that’s what we show in the film: ordinary events. We’re just trying to highlight how rich – and how important—ordinary moments are. I think that becoming more aware of this innate communicative ability makes parenting more enjoyable for both parents and babies.”

The film is also currently scheduled to premiere inAlbuquerque, New Mexico on 17 December 2011, and at the Scottish Parliament on 1 Feburary 2012. Those interested in purchasing their own DVD of the film can place an order from the website: www.theconnectedbaby.org. The DVD is structured to be easily used for both entertainment or professional purposes.

Jonathan Robertson adds, “We’ve been delighted with the feedback we’ve had so far from viewers. Their comments are confirming that it is proving valuable whether its being viewed from a personal or a professional perspective. I certainly learned a lot about how connected babies are, while making this film, and I am pleased to think that our work might help others to have something of that same experience.”

Claire, a Dundee mum who features on the cover of the DVD with her daughter Holly, only 5 weeks old at the time, said, “Its been a real pleasure taking part in this project. I hadn’t quite realised, when we were filming, how tuned in Holly was to me, especially at that young age. It was an eye-opener when I saw the footage. I hope other parents gain something like that from it. The film is a great memory for me personally, because its become hard to remember what she was really like when she was so little!”

The sound track for the film includes lullabies specially recorded by Sheena Wellington, renowned Scottish folk singer, who performed at the 1999 ceremony marking the opening of the devolved Scottish Parliament. The scientific information presented in the film helps to explain why humans are so affected by musical rhythms, so Robertson and Zeedyk felt that a sound track featuring lullabies was a perfect blending of science and the arts.

Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, who is interviewed in the film, endorsed its wider aim by describing it as “beautifully made, a mind opener in our rational age, showing that babies are persons from the start, in command of a whole passionate self.”

The New York premiere will take place at the Museum of Motherhood (MOM), at 7pm on Wednesday 30 November. The museum’s founder and director, Joy Rose said, “The aim of MOM is to draw attention to the hard work, and often hidden work, that mothers do. So we are delighted to be hosting the US premiere of the connected baby.”

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