Few films are produced for children and youth in the Middle East today. There is a great interest in finding out how to strengthen cinema culture for children and young people in Lebanon and how to use film as a tool in processes concerning development, peace building, media literacy and education.
The Danish government's international culture panel has a particular focus on the Middle East as well as children and youth.
The Danish Film Institute has experience from other international film projects and programmes including Palestine, Syria. Brazil, Tanzania and Uganda.
Today, more than a million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, in addition to the many Palestinian refugees.
If the project is a success, experiences from the initiative can be expanded to other parts of the Middle East.
The project is a partnership between the Danish Embassy in Lebanon, Metropolis Art Cinéma in Beirut and the Danish Film Institute.
The films will be subtitled, dubbed or interpreted live in Arabic. Three Danish short films will be dubbed:
- "The Mouse" by Pil Maria Gunnarsson (Cosmo Film, 2009)
- Oscar winner "Helium" by Anders Walter (M&M Productions, 2014)
- "The Flame and the Cotton Ball" by Niels Bisbo (Eye Candy Film/TSOMM Pictures, 2013)
Cinema on the Road plans to screen films from the Middle East along with Danish and other international titles in cinemas and public schools as well as in some of the Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps around the country.
As part of the screenings, participants are encouraged to discuss and analyze the themes and structure of the films – an artistic reflection about the film and its content. From August until December, local facilitators will travel around with the films.
"The partners involved are very committed to using the film medium in working with children and young people, both when it comes to dialogue, global insight and empathy, to strengthen the children's identity and self-realization, and, more generally, to strengthen their film and media understanding. Many aid organizations and schools use educational films in their work, but there is little tradition of using short, documentary and feature films combined with dialogue and discussion in public schools and refugee camps," says special consultant Charlotte Giese from the Danish Film Institute.
Giese was recently in Beirut to finish the last strategic planning of the project and the film program. She also participated in finding screening venues and taught a workshop about film mediation and the Danish model and experiences within the field of film production and film education for children and young people.
The project is a partnership. The DFI contributed with the above-mentioned expertise, while the local partners and facilitators have insights on film in general, pedagogy, psychology and assistance work. Most of them are used to working with vulnerable children and young people.
"Film can contribute to the dialogue for this young generation who feel like they have been deprived of their identity, privacy and belief in a future. The Danish tradition of producing films of high artistic quality and giving children and young people the opportunity to understand and create films is inspirational in a Lebanese context. It is a model and a method that the partners would like to know more about," says Giese.
Cinema on the Road is the continuation and elaboration of an earlier project that the embassy has conducted with support from the DFI. The collaboration with Lebanese film institution Metropolis Art Cinema and other sub-partners is going to ensure local anchoring and ownership.
Metropolis Art Cinema already has experience in the field from a programme, Tous au Cinéma, for private schools. The DFI contributes with experience from Denmark and other international film programmes, including Syria, Palestine, Tanzania and Uganda.
With this initiative, the parties involved wish to create attention and interest in film production and film culture aimed at the younger generation and to inspire children and young people to explore and understand the film medium.
Ambassador Rolf Pereira Holmboe:
"Movies can inspire, break taboos and create debate. The project aims at children and young people, who in large do not have access to experiment with film in their education. With initiatives like this, we to give children in Lebanese public schools and refugee camps opportunity to discover and explore a new world of film as a form of self-expression."
Metropolis Art Cinema Association, Cendrella Abi Gerges:
"Metropolis Art Cinema has focused since its establishment on the young generation and was always looking for an ambitious project to reach children and youth from different regions. Therefore, we are very glad of this partnership with the Danish Embassy in Beirut and the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen. The training revealed to us the potential of developing film production and film education for children and young people in this region of the world and the necessity to create a sustainable strategy to develop cinema culture. We received great feedback from the facilitators who attended the workshop and how they benefited from the expertise of Mrs. Giese. We are happy to collaborate with the facilitators, as they will join us on board on this exciting adventure."
Cinema on the Road is financially supported by the Danish Agency for Culture and the Danish Institute in Damascus.