Social Cohesion Through Filmmaking

Date Publish: 
Thursday, August 2, 2018

"I want to talk about my journey. Three years ago, I came alone all the way from Darfur, Sudan. I left my family who still live in a refugee camp in Chad." Abas, 23, a participant from our filmmaking workshop in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year, we wanted to take the Global Migration Film Festival one step further and directly engage with migrant communities.

We held participatory video workshops in Jordan, South Sudan and Switzerland leading up to the start of the Film Festival on the 5 of December. The workshops used the art of filmmaking as a tool to foster social cohesion and empowerment.

The method of Participatory Video promotes community-to-community learning, with our team of trainers acting mostly as facilitators. After providing a few tips to start the process, they stepped back so participants could learn filmmaking at their own pace. Allowing the group to evolve with minimum interference is key to capacity and team building.

The workshop tour kicked off in Amman, Jordan, in October. Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, this small country in the Middle East with a total population of 7.6 million has been hosting over 630,000 Syrians fleeing war and dismay. Jordan has also welcomed migrants, including refugees, from other countries in the region as well as African nations.

The workshop brought together young migrants from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea for a full week of filmmaking and discussions about the power of compassion and humanity to transform sadness into hope.

In November, our team went to Malakal, South Sudan, to work with communities that have fled war and violence. With all they had been through, we knew they would have a lot to share.

Along with IOM's Psychosocial Support Team, we helped a group of 14 community members who lived in the Malakal protection of civilians (PoC) site for the last four years to come together and make a short film based on their experiences and challenging life stories.

Despite the difficulties they have been through, none of the participants showed any resentment or anger in their filmmaking. Instead, they wanted to demonstrate the importance of rising with forgiveness, compassion and unity. As they repeated many times during the week: "All we want is peace."

In the first week of December, our team hosted its final workshop for this year in Geneva, Switzerland. Well known for being the world's humanitarian capital, Geneva also hosts many migrant communities.

In such a setting, it was a must for our project to give voice to migrants who make the long journey to Geneva. Some come to reunite with their families, others come to study, but many come fleeing conflict and poverty in their homelands.

To enable migrants living in Geneva to film their stories, the Festival partnered with the Centre de la Roseraie, an institution that welcomes, trains and supports migrants to build a better future.

The second edition of the Film Festival provided a unique opportunity for global audiences to see short films on the perils of forced and voluntary migration from migrants themselves.

The participatory videos produced in Geneva and Jordan were shown during two of our screenings in Geneva. The video produced during our South Sudan workshop was screened in Juba, South Sudan, itself.

The workshops were made possible through the generous support of the IOM Development Fund and NORCAP (Norwegian Refugee Council's expert deployment capacity).