Youth in Iran receive film-making training as part of a UNICEF-supported programme

The Story of Anisa and Aida, two young filmmakers, who participated in the UNICEF-supported film-making courses for youth.

Nazanin Abbasi
Anisa and Aida
UNICEF Iran/2022/Sayyari
18 August 2022

Fifteen-year-old Anisa Taj says, “I had the opportunity to get in touch with many script writers, directors, filmmakers, and cinema people from childhood, as my mom was a member of Iranian Youth Cinema Society (IYCF). I looked at them as my role models.” Anisa has found her passion in cinema. Her hobbies are watching animations and listening to podcasts about the cinema, art and music.

When she saw the poster of the 3rd Filmmaking Olympiad for Adolescents and the UNICEF-supported film-making courses for youth at IYCF, she immediately applied. “It was a life changing course for me, through which I made friends with many peers and learned a lot of professional tips and hints. The memories of the International Film Festival for Children and Youth, where previous graduates of IYCS presented their work, were really inspiring. It was the best place for the enthusiastic adolescents to find their areas of interest.”

Since 2018 and within the framework of its agreement with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, UNICEF Iran has provided support to the Iranian Youth Cinema Society, holding film-making trainings for talented adolescents and youth, including those from less advantaged families across the country. With UNICEF financial support, IYCS has successfully held several interactive courses and workshops for youth in a variety of areas such as:  introduction to cinema; film-making and short films directing; script writing; photography; filming; brainstorming film ideas and converting ideas into script and imaging as well as editing tools and software all conducted by professional facilitators and tutors. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, these trainings continued through online platforms. All the training courses have been conducted free of charge for the participants from different provinces. The IYCS has branch offices in 58 cities.

Aida Zarein, is a 17-year-old high schooler. She studies cinema at Sooreh Art School in Tehran and got acquainted with IYCS activities and opportunities through his brother, also a young director and cinema fan. “I learnt about the Olympiad programmes and UNICEF supported trainings through IYCS and UNICEF Iran Instagram pages and registered. But when the course started, it was the beginning of the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020, and therefore all the classes were held online,” says Aida adding,” At first, I was hesitant that the online trainings and ‘live Instagram’ sessions might not be that much effective and interactive. But the enthusiastic participants and knowledgeable facilitators proved me wrong. Adolescents around my age from across the country attended the classes, something that otherwise would not be possible; we talked a lot about the rituals and situations of each city, which triggered many interesting ideas of filmmaking for all of us.”

“You know, we are totally different, I am so extrovert and Aida is a bit shy and quiet, but we complement each other when it comes to creativity,” Anisa says, adding, “Aida is very sensible and realistic and feels social problems deeply, but I mostly tend to imagine and fantasize.”

When Aida and Anisa learn about the 6th Istanbul Children and Youth Art Biennial (April 2022), they decide to make a short film together and submit it. “That’s how we came up with the idea, started to write the script and shoot the film in just three days ... it was all like an illusion … and so we called it Ineffective Illusion,” says Anisa.

The short film Ineffective Illusion was admitted to the 6th Istanbul Children and Youth Art Biennial in the field of “video art”. The two young ambitious girls consider it a great achievement and an entry point into the fascinating world of filmmaking.

Anisa adds:” It was Aida again who delivered the good news to me ... our film was admitted! And I feel so self-confident and overwhelmed that I can pursue my dreams. I now understand that what UNICEF says is true, the world will be a better place, if children and adolescents are empowered and reach their full potentials.”

Aida thinks that the IYCS courses have been very influential in giving her a direction and she is now determined to continue her academic studies in the same field in a good university.

“Thanks to the UNICEF-supported courses, we made it! Now I feel so empowered and determined to produce more works for children and adolescents and to reach out for my goals,” Aida says adding, “I understood how important teamwork is to get good results. We have written another script and will soon start filming it after our school final exams.”