Using cinema to educate and inspire, FilmAid brings films to places and communities that have seen a great deal of poverty and disaster. From strictly informational videos that can even save people’s lives with the insight they offer, to classic comedies and documentaries dealing with inspirational life stories, there is no doubt that cinema — used wisely – can save lives. This is the philosophy behind FilmAid.
Caroline Baron, the founder of FilmAid International, first saw the need for films being brought to places with little access to important information back in 1999. Within days, she secured funding, gathered a group of volunteers and decided on a set of movies that would first make what is known today as the Mobile Cinema. It didn’t take long for this initiative to become one of the most effective ways to provide education, hope and inspiration to people who lack it and desperately need it. Now, FilmAid is dedicated to improving life conditions everywhere that is needed, in a very romantic, clever and effective way.
From huge inflatable screens set up in the middle of a field, to small televisions put under a tree, there is nowhere that cinema can’t reach and FilmAid makes sure that every person gets to watch classic Hollywood movies as well as regional documentaries and learn while experiencing the magic of film. All these projections use the movie merely as an incentive, the starting point for a conversation concerning timely issues. After the ending of each film, dialogue is triggered and the community learns to discuss, exchange opinions, people develop critical skills and become aware of the possibilities available to them.
A number of training workshops are organised by FilmAid’s volunteers on a steady basis. Typically, a workshop will begin with the projection of a specifically targeted for the community video and 20 to 30 people will be invited to join the projection and discussion that follows and then those who want to tell their own stories will be provided with the means to start a project. The film’s theme will target a certain group of people, a community that the audience can relate to, learn from and understand. Through conversing about health issues, economic crises and possible ways out of them, viewers learn to reflect, weigh options, form their own voice and become more determined about empowering themselves. Severe psychological problems that are connected to poverty, isolation, inequity and idleness are being handled in a simple but most efficient way: through the escape that cinema provides, through the creativity and dialogue that a film triggers.
Every year on World Refugee Day, June 20, an annual celebration takes place, where filmmakers trained through this program showcase their work and begin a discussion on their very own films, inviting their community to join and speak their minds through their work. Throughout the year, however, there is always something happening that can make this world a better and more creative place and plenty of help that is needed from our part. If you wish to join one of their numerous events and workshops, donate, volunteer for FilmAid or even work with them, visit their page and get in touch. Spread the word, spread the films.