16 Jan 2019

 

Global Migration Film Festival Shown In South Sudan

The United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) brought to South Sudan for the first time its annual Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF).

Global Migration Film Festival Shown In South Sudan
The university debates and participants in the Global Migration Film Festival in Juba. Photo: Olivia Headon/IOM 2018 [Gurtong photo|Ojwe Lumara]

By Ojwe Lumara

JUBA, 20 December 2018 [Gurtong]-
This year’s event marked IOM´s third year screening documentaries, features and short films that explore the themes of migration and human mobility.

The Film Festival features works that capture the promise and challenges of migration, and the unique contributions that migrants make to their new communities. The goal of the Festival is to open audiences to a larger discussion concerning the mega trend of our time: migration.
Launched in November last month in Geneva, the films were screened in a period of 21 days in IOM missions in some 100 countries selected along popular migration routes such as the Trans-Saharan corridor.

Many South Sudanese growing up in foreign countries contribute to the global migration crisis.  Despite independence of the country from the Sudan to end Africa’s longest civil war and return of migrants to South Sudan, another civil war which started in 2013 sent many back as migrants.

Five years on since the civil war started, over 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in six neighboring countries: Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). Another 1.9 million are internally displaced inside South Sudan.

As a result, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners on December 18 launched an appeal for US$2.7 billion for 2019 and 2020 to address the life-saving humanitarian needs of South Sudanese refugees.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Sudan hosted the film screenings in Wau, Juba and in the Abyei Administrative Area.

In Wau last week, invisibles about migration to Spain helped Government participants at an IOM-organized countering trafficking training to better understand the people, the causes and the consequences of migration flows. On the final day of the six-day training, which took place on December 18, IOM screened a second film, On the Same Boat, which is a collection of personal stories from asylum seekers, who arrived in Sardinia, an Italian island. The films were included as part of the training to humanize and personalize the struggles people face when migrating.

This training took place under the Better Migration Management Project (BMM). BMM is a regional, multi-year, multi-partner programme co-funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). BMM aims to provide capacity building to improve migration management, particularly to prevent and address irregular migration, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons.
 
The flagship screening in Juba was a joint effort between IOM and Advance South Sudan, a South Sudanese non-governmental organization (NGO) working with young people. Students from the University of Juba and Upper Nile University came together to watch and discuss the film Bush fallers. The film showcases four young filmmakers, two from Cameroon and two from Germany, who embark on a journey to answer a simple question, with a complex answer: why do Africans choose to migrate to Europe?

Some of the filmmakers participating in the Festival have themselves been migrants or refugees. Many shared their stories brought forth from their unique experiences and even more unique talent and vision realized via films spanning a wide variety of cinema genres.
During the event, Acholi Cultural Group and WJ performed traditional dances and songs about migration. WJ also discussed his own personal journey as a South Sudanese refugee in Uganda.

Mawa Nemaya, Advance South Sudan’s Executive Director said during the Juba screening, that “We are seeking to unite people around common values drawn from diverse cultures and traditions, that's why our organization always incorporates cultural dance and musical performances with our debates to generate conversations on issues surrounding migration and promotion of tolerance among host communities and migrants especially during the implementation process of the R-ARCISS [Revitalized-Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict] in South Sudan.”

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, emphasized the importance of such discussions. “Our film festival uses film as an educational tool to influence attitudes towards migrants in a positive way, highlighting their overall contributions to society and the struggles that many face in today’s world on the move,” Chauzy during the awards ceremony.

In relation to the theme of the day, Chauzy said, “Time and time again, irregular migrants are not afforded dignity. However, every person has a right to be treated with dignity and respect always regardless of the migration status.”
 
In the Abyei Administrative Area, IOM screened The Girl, Whose Shadow Reflects the Moon, through which 17-year-old Khaldiya meditates on how the refugee camp has opened up new horizons and gave her a sense of courage that she lacked in Syria. The audience, which comprised of IOM’s peace club teacher facilitators, also watched Abu Adnan, which tells the story of Sayid and his son Adnan, who fled Syria and resettled in Denmark where Adnan is integrating faster than his father.
 
Following the screening, the teachers discussed how migration and displacement can have specific effects on children, as highlighted by the films they watched.
 
“With our Film Festival, we strive to use films as a tool to stimulate conversation around migration and bring attention to social issues affecting migrants through storytelling,” said Leonard Doyle, IOM Spokesperson and head of the Media and Communication Division.

“Cinema and migration have a historical bond stretching back over a century when film makers, many of whom were immigrants themselves, began making movies that depicted a world on the move.”
“The Festival is also an advocacy tool. One that can draw attention to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” added Doyle. “Many of the SDGs relate indirectly and directly to migration, including target 10.7, which seeks to facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration.”
Beyond stimulating healthy debate, explained Amanda Nero, the GMFF Director, IOM’s Festival amplifies voices, empowers and fosters social cohesion in migrants’ affected communities through IOM’s Participatory Video initiative, where migrants and host communities produce their own movies through a hands-on process.

“It is important for the Festival to not only be a broad platform to inform, educate and promote the debate around migration, but it should also empower and give a voice to affected communities,” said Nero, who is also one of the facilitators of the Participatory Video initiative, adding, “The participatory process is beautiful and challenging.”




 

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