23.09.2016 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

New ways to voice meaningful messages: ceremony for young moviemakers

The creativity and civic engagement of Lebanese and Syrian youth were once again demonstrated during a ceremony in Chtaura (Bekaa) on 23 September 2016.

The ceremony was the final phase of the “Learn, Apply, Express” (LAE) initiative which has been conducted by UNESCO Office in Beirut, under the framework of the Net-Med Youth project (EU-funding), and the NGO ITvism for youth to be able to use contemporary media in a productive way. In the framework of LAE, workshops took place throughout July and August in order to promote civic engagement to Lebanese and Syrian youth by teaching them how to make and edit videos that convey a meaningful message.

This initiative was launched last July with a first workshop which gathered 30 Lebanese and Syrian youth from different backgrounds in Kfar Zabad – Bekaa, exposing them to and teaching them the principles of photography and how to set up and prepare short movies to voice meaningful and supportive messages. Participants were introduced to the history of camera, its components and uses along with their respective evolutions over the years. The intensive course gradually proceeded to covering all filmmaking phases for beginners with a special focus given to the essential aspects needed for filming short movies as well as the necessary knowledge and skills required for conducting interviews.

In the second phase, participants were divided into smaller groups and were provided with equipment needed to make and edit their own short movie, while addressing topics that are important to their community or village.

The participants’ short movies addressed various social topics that reflect the dynamics of young people’s lives in their communities. For example, one movie highlighted the challenges posed by frequent electricity cuts to the daily lives and health of young people living in rural areas, whereas other movies shed light on the influence of the socio-cultural context, such as belief in cultural myths, or negative social interactions, and on the community’s development and overall well-being of its inhabitants.

Mohammad Mehdi Hussein, a young Syrian participant, indicated the value of this training for giving him the chance to voice out his perspective: “I face a lot of challenges as a refugee. Filming was an opportunity for me to express my opinion and to show the difficulties I endure.”

From his side, Mr. Ahmad Karout, Executive Director of ITVISM, welcomed everyone and highlighted the exceptional efforts the youth put in this project which showed their interest and commitment for participation and development.

Along with the youth testimonies, Mr. George Awad, Communication and Information Programme Officer at UNESCO Beirut, stressed the important role of youth in our society, as well as the importance of giving them the opportunity to express their ideas, concerns, and priorities. This initiative, of course, comes as part of UNESCO’s mandate to promote Freedom of Expression and engage youth within their community and hence in public life. Along these lines, one young participant, Lama El Kurdi, pointed out that “the freedom of expression and the liberty that the media enjoys in Lebanon was of benefit for us. We could film freely.”

During the ceremony, several videos that have been completely filmed and produced by the Lebanese and Syrian young participants were screened. Participants then received certificates for their movie production achievements and their talent in addressing issues that are important for society and the community.

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