Integration through film workshops

As part of the realization of the project “I have a diploma and I am free,” one of the activities was the establishment and operation of film sections. During the first school visit, principals appointed teachers who will participate in the implementation of the activities. Some of them were unsure because they had never did anything like that before, and some were quite happy because it is a new challenge for them.

At our first joint meeting, all the teachers were cold and abstinent, primarily because they did not know each other. It was hard to involve them into conversation and they were rather restrained. Our role was to relax the atmosphere a bit. Already at the next meeting, the situation was much better. Suggestions were made one after the other. Teachers waited with huge anticipation for the next meeting where they could share opinions and ideas. They often came together in a local café, chatted and talked about films they work on with their pupils. The reticence bounced back and made a place for true commitment to this project.

During the animation of children, we took care that their tasks were not too complicated, in aim to prevent the resistance to making movies. It was given an universal theme (What could be better in my environment, My dream place) and they had the opportunity to express themselves in any way. In the beginning, it was difficult, but with the help of teachers and project team support, children slowly started their film adventure. It was a pleasure to watch them socialize, create ideas and learn about movie editing and directing … They insisted to gather with teachers even during the summer break. They had great interaction with film sections from other schools, exchanging ideas and requisites for recording. Their dedication is what filled the hearts of the teachers and the project team, and once again proved that this project was a great idea.

The project intended that each task was done in pairs, one child at risk and one that is not. The children who were on the margin, through work on the film, were accepted into the society, which they were very short of. They gained the necessary confidence and finally became visible, which was one of the goals of this project.. They waited with anticipation the day of the festival when their movies would be screened.

The interest of public was bigger than capacities of the festival. Visibility of the event was huge, and the audience was crowded. The children were impatiently waiting to see their films on the big screen, and their friends came to support them. Those who did not take part in filming were interested to partake in similar programme next year, because they had a great desire for them to do the same. After the screening, campaigns for animating voters started, because they fought for every vote.

At the prize-giving ceremony, the children proudly went to the stage to take on their well-deserved prizes. It was very emotional to watch them. The environment in which they live does not offer them an opportunity to engage with extracurricular activities. It took a minimum of equipment, encouragement and love that make up their little works of art. As they were now incredibly motivated, they already have ideas to see the next movie, what they would do better, what techniques they would use. Children are very intelligent, creative, full of ideas and very little they need their talents to come to the fore. So, not only were all children encouraged to be imaginative, but those shadow students also got a chance to bliss.

In Varvarin, the project of filming and organizing a film festival is the first activity that children have created themselves. The professors and the project team supported them and provided the necessary resources through all stages of this activity. The greatest advance was that children from risk and vulnarable groups were involved in activities, they progressed, felt accepted, made friendships and became equal members of the society. As children who still form interests and personality, it is very important that they do not feel rejected and have the chance to realize their full potential.

The professors met, began to cooperate, consult, and eventually became friends. They stayed in touch and continued to share ideas, information about students at risk of dropping out of school, and to grow friendship that is the strongest guarantee that the film festival will live in the coming years.