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Youth Filmmaking: Big Screens, Big Experiences

By Karen Cirillo

AMSTERDAM, 30 November 2013 - The lights dimmed in a sold-out theatre as OneMinutesJr videos took to the screen.

The theatre screening was part of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where the 2013 OneMinutesJr Award-nominated videos were having their big-screen debut as part of the annual Awards and Masterclass.

The events, hosted by UNICEF, the One Minutes Foundation and IDFA, celebrated the best one-minute videos made by young people around the world.  In the audience were 9 of the 15 awards nominees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Georgia, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan and Ukraine, who were invited to The Netherlands to participate in the Awards events.  They were joined by five local Dutch youth who would be joining the Masterclass. 

The fifteen videos screened were nominated for the 2013 OneMinutesJr Awards in three categories: (Self)-Portrait, Inside-Out and One Minute of Freedom. They were selected from over 300 videos produced during UNICEF-sponsored workshops in 15 different countries over the past year. The awards were presented at a ceremony later in the weekend.


And the winners are…

The award for (Self)-Portait went to 14-year-old Ivana Šušnjar from Bosnia and Herzegovina, for her film “My Way”. The film shares the idea of choosing your own path, using a unicycle as the metaphor. The judges Marije Veenstra, educational producer at IDFA, and Marleen Frencken, 14-year-old member of the UNICEF Netherlands Think Tank, stated: “The maker of this film found an original and strong way of telling her message. In just one minute she inspires us in a positive, clear and identifiable way and gives us something to think about.” 

The award for Inside-Out went to 18-year-old Nastja from Ukraine, for her film “Hold Me”. The film is about the regrets she feels about not treating her mother well. The judges Hong-An Truong, artist and art professor, and Zeljko Krivokapic, 13-year-old OneMinutesJr. Montenegro participant, stated: “The video has a simple yet powerful message about a topic seldom discussed: the unique relationship between a mother and a child. Well-crafted and subtle, this video's tender portrayal gives us all a reason to pause.”

Nastja was not able to attend the awards, but relayed a message: “I can’t believe that this happened to me… Because of UNICEF I had the opportunity to express my feelings to my parents, which I was ashamed to share before… We learned to talk about our state of mind, to express our ideas and feelings.” 

The award for One Minute of Freedom went to 17-year-old Ghada Yousri Benyaala from Libya, for her film “My Challenge”. The film expresses the freedom for young women to be able to choose their direction in life, despite society’s expectations. The judges, Leonard Retel Helmrich, award-winning filmmaker, and Yung Han, university student and short video maker, stated: “The film shows great creativity and sensitivity to express the [workshop] theme "our now, our future.” In a simple and understandable way, she powerfully voices for many teenagers who are impeded to pursue what they really like. From the girl's indomitable eyes, we could see some possibility, which may be called a bright future.

All three winners received a small video camera and a trophy.

Masterclass video-making

The awards were not the only rewarding experience of the weekend. The Masterclass began with each nominated-filmmaker presenting their video to a group of students and adults and explaining the background of the video and why they wanted to tell that story. Students asked questions about the subjects and how the films were made.

Then the three Masterclass teachers, all Amsterdam-based video artists, introduced the theme for the 2-day class: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). The youth were tasked with coming up with a subject and a question that could serve as their video inspiration. The next day, they presented their ideas: “Where can I sleep?”, “What is love?”, “What is inspiration?”, “How do people know what I’m feeling?”, “Why can’t people let me decide my own life?” After developing the visual images for these questions, the teams set out to shoot and edit their new one-minute videos.

Finally, the last day was filled with shooting and editing, choosing music and titles and getting ready to screen the films. The participants were joined by chaperones, friends and many of the OneMinutesJr. workshop facilitators to watch the final Masterclass results.

14-year-old Ivana Šušnjar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and 17-year-old Ghanda Yousri Benyaala (Libya) celebrate winning the OneMinutesJr. Awards - UNICEF / Abdul Sami Malik / 2013

A unique experience

The chance to travel to the Netherlands was a unique experience for all of the young filmmakers. “This is a life-changing experience,” said Julia van Mourik, Director of the One Minutes Foundation. “These young people have had the chance to travel internationally, be celebrated for their work, and meet youth from other countries. It’s must be really eye-opening for them.”

UNICEF and the One Minutes Foundation have been running the OneMinutesJr initiative since 2002 and have worked with over 3150 young people in 97 countries.



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