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Pakistani youngsters tell stories of hope through one-minute films

© UNICEF Pakistan/2012/S Malik
Mibsam Naheed Khan,10, prepares his storyboard.

Lights…camera…action! Pakistani youngsters tell stories of hope through one-minute films

By Zeeshan Suhail

Lahore, Pakistan, January 30, 2013 – Mibsam Tanveer practises his karate moves as he waits for the cameraman to say the magic word: Action! The 10-year-old is acting in a film he conceived about the eternal struggle of good versus evil. His karate kicks and punches are against the manifestations of evil – social ills such as hatred and anger.

At the end of the film, we find his arms outstretched, a move choreographed to look as if he is acquiring all the good that emanates from the universe. The difference between a Hollywood film and this film, shot in urban Lahore, is that the latter will be produced by Mibsam himself, and will eventually be just a minute long.

15 children, 15 one-minute films

Mibsam is one of 15 children selected to participate in a OneMinutesJr. workshop on the theme ‘Education through peace and tolerance’ organized by UNICEF and the One Minutes Foundation. Children from underprivileged backgrounds spend five days learning the basics of filmmaking and then develop concepts for their films, which will be one minute in length. The children are mentored by artist facilitators who help refine the concepts and messages for more compelling films.

Another ten-year-old, Sawaira Ramzan, spent an afternoon with fellow workshop participant Mohammed Faizan finding ways to creatively tell her story about a bully who teases girls on their way to school. Her rationale was simple: “I wanted to show the frustration and discomfort faced by girls as they try to get an education.” At the final screening, her film was a hit with the audience.

Five days, lofty goals

The workshop served many aims: to bring together a diverse group of children and adolescents and help them express their sentiments on the theme of peace, tolerance and education; to help them enhance their creative skills; to build a sense of social cohesion among the religiously and socio-economically diverse group; and, of course, to help them tell compelling stories via film in one minute.

The first morning of the workshop set the tone for the remaining days that the children and facilitators would be spending with one another. When the children were asked to introduce themselves, each, in turn, rose and delivered an eloquent speech about favourite hobbies and background – and what she or he hoped to gain from the workshop.

© UNICEF Pakistan/2012/R Ribbius
Sawaira Ramzan and Mohammed Faizan watch their peers tinker with a video camera.

The fifteen young people spent the next five days working diligently on their films from start to finish. They developed concepts for their films through discussions with the facilitators and two interpreters (Fatin Touqir and Fouad Hassan). Many sought counsel from the eldest participant in the group, Burhan Sabir, 17, and looked to him as an older brother. He had already started shooting by day two of the workshop and served as a great motivation for the  younger participants.

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity helps build social cohesion

“The young workshop participants thoroughly enjoyed this rare opportunity of expressing their opinions, observations and messages through visual arts,” said Communications Specialist at UNICEF Pakistan Sami Malik, who brought the workshop to Pakistan. “UNICEF aims to provide more such opportunities in the future so that our children have the confidence that their opinion matters in making the world a better place.”

By day, the children were hard at work on their films, and by night, they took a chance to relax and appreciate the opportunity of attending such a workshop. Rarely had they ventured outside their hometowns, let alone visited large, urban centres like Lahore.

“After having led over 30 OneMinutesJr. workshops worldwide, what struck me most about the workshop in Lahore was the eagerness of the kids to learn and actively participate in such a workshop,” said Raya Ribbius, the UNICEF workshop coordinator. “Not only were they very knowledgeable on the subject of education, peace and tolerance, they also were very clear about the messages they wanted to share with the world.”

The youth participants left the workshop with new friends – and better equipped to tell stories through visual media.

 

 

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