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Young Cambodians share stories of their lives through film

By Denise Shepherd-Johnson

PREY VENG, Cambodia, 21 December 2012 - Eighteen Cambodian youth recently shared personal stories about their lives and opinions in videos that they conceived, directed and edited. Their first-ever productions were made during the five-day OneMinutesJr. workshop held in Peam Ro district, Prey Veng province 27 November to 1 December, hosted by UNICEF and Save the Children Cambodia.

(Bun Chantoeun, 16, Cambodia, 2012) A 'pied piper' attracts kids to join in the fight for children’s rights. Produced at the 2012 OneMinutesJr. workshop in Cambodia on 'Child Rights in My World'. To learn more...please visit: https://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/video_42432.html.


Nine girls and nine boys, aged between 12 and 17, took part in the event, which is part of the international arts-based OneMinutesJr. initiative started in 2002 by UNICEF, the One Minutes Foundation and the European Cultural Foundation to give young people, especially those who are underprivileged or marginalized, the opportunity to have their voices heard and to share their ideas and viewpoints on the world.

Learning to tell a story in 60 seconds

The children, drawn from Child Rights clubs in the district, worked with two professional video artists from the Netherlands, Ineke Bakker and Taatske Pieterson, to learn basic camera and directing skills, story-telling, teamwork and how to think creatively about issues. Using video cameras and editing equipment supplied by the OneMinutesJr. team, each youth participant developed a story based on the theme ‘Child Rights in my World’.

Sixteen-year-old Bun Chanthoeun, whose film ‘Follow Me’ shows him leading a group of children, said he really enjoyed the workshop. “By taking pictures, I can use this for my career. I’m happy I learned something and made new friends. I would like to be a film director. I lead a children’s club, so my story is about child rights,” he said.

© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Cirillo
The OneMinutesJr. workshop participants, aged 12-17, learned to make films to tell stories about their lives and concerns.

Eang Sotharoth (aged 15) said, “I liked the whole week. Now I can film. At first it was difficult but day by day it got easy. My film is about [the influence of] drink – alcohol. It’s a true story.” Her film is ‘I Know the Difference.’

Thirteen-year-old Sok Pros produced an abstract film called ‘Hope.’ “I liked to use the camera because now I can film,” said Pros. “It was fun. I learned a new experience. It’s not so hard because the teacher showed us.”

Inspirational public screening

The public screening of all the films at the end of the workshop was the highlight of the week. Attending the event, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia Rana Flowers described the young filmmakers as “inspiring”. “The children who took part in the workshop produced excellent films that were truly inspiring, not only because they were well made and well acted, but because the children expressed their views on child rights issues. The very personal, and at times painful, impact of the situations they addressed were so much more powerful using their new-found skills in filmmaking. The skills and the confidence they have gained will be invaluable and stand them in good stead the future,” said Ms. Flowers.

© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Cirillo
Eang Sotharoth (centre) manages the camera for one of the OneMinutesJr. productions in Cambodia.

UNICEF Global Coordinator for the OneMinutesJr. Karen Cirillo, who has worked with the initiative in eighteen countries, said, “At the start of the workshop, [the children] didn’t know each other, they didn’t know us and they didn’t know what to expect, but then they opened up and became friends and worked together. A lot of them were interested in issues around education, of being able to go to school and having to work to achieve certain goals. At least half the films were about their personal situations or those of friends or people in the community that they wanted to express. The process of having adults listening to them and asking, ‘What story do you want to tell?’ makes them open up.”

Reflecting on the success of the workshop, Country Director of Save the Children in Cambodia Andrew Moore said, “These short films have been a great exercise in empowering children voices to put together inspirational child-led films about day-to-day problems. It was great to see such excellent cooperation between Save the Children and UNICEF in making this happen.”

All films made by the children will be entered into the global OneMinutesJr. Competition, and winners will be announced at the end of 2013.



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