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Iraqi children share their experience in film about friends separated by conflict

© Spacetoon
Young Iraqi girl prepares a camera shot.

NEW YORK, USA, 3 January 2008 – Even amidst the security challenges facing children in Iraq every day, a group of young people there have found a way to create a poignant short film about life in Baghdad.

UNICEF and Spacetoon – the regional Middle Eastern children’s television network – gathered a group of Sunni and Shia’a children from the Iraqi capital to create the film in conjunction with the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting.

The children discussed various ideas for stories and voted on the one they wished to produce. The selected story line, based on one participant’s real experience, focuses on a boy in Iraq who loses his friend when the friend’s family is driven away by conflict.

© Spacetoon
Storyboard for short film created by young Iraqi participants in a week-long production organized by UNICEF and Spacetoon.

Allowing for security concerns

While the girls in the group learned camera skills and directing techniques, the boys scripted the story and scouted locations.

The training, filming and editing sites were selected carefully to ensure that the children would be able to work and enjoy the experience in safety. One security incident in Baghdad caused the filming to be postponed a day.

The whole process took just over a week, during which time the children became friends, although they hadn’t known each other previously.

A shot from the story about young Iraqi friends who are separated as a result of conflict.

‘The time of their lives’

Given the difficult security conditions under which they live, the children said they enjoyed the chance to express themselves and have fun.

“It lifted everyone’s spirits to be involved in the project – even the schoolchildren extras,” said UNICEF Iraq Communication Officer Claire Hajaj. “Our feedback from talking to the children is that they had the time of their lives.”

The film was aired multiple times on Spacetoon, as well as the state-run Al-Iraqiya network, during the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting in December.




Watch the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting video created by Iraqi children in collaboration with Spacetoon and UNICEF.
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