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Open Air Cinema Foundation: MAP Foundation’s Media Campaign Reaches Out to Burmese Migrant Workers

One thing we’ve discovered in our first three months in operation here in Southeast Asia is that there are countless organizations looking to communicate with the communities they serve. Since most organizations work in rural areas often lacking electricity and other services, it is never easy to relay public health messages and information to those in need.

One example is the MAP Foundation serving the Burmese migrant community along the Thai-Burma border. MAP has created a series of cartoons to inform Burmese migrant workers how to avoid accidents and sickness in the workplace. These videos can be easily found on the MAP Foundation website and YouTube.

The Open Air Cinema Foundation aims to take vital media similar to this video series into Burmese migrant communities along the border. In partnership with local NGOs such as the MAP Foundation we use our outdoor projection technology to reach communities that normally would not be able to connect with these messages.

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Open Air Cinema’s Screening of Haitian Presidential Debates in Camp Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

Last night was our fourth outdoor movie screening of the Haitian Presidential debates, this time in camp Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, . The Mayor of Port-au-Prince invited us to screen the debates within the city courtyard, and the fire department assisted in security and setting up the screening. We have a few more inflatable movie screenings of the first round of debates, and then we’ll be showing the second round in advance of the elections on Sunday.

The local production crew is learning the OAC Cinebox outdoor movie system well, and set up last night without much assistance from the OAC technicians. The portable movie screen, outdoor projector, and outdoor speaker system were setup with ease. Overall the production went very well, and several hundred Camp residents attended and watched the debates.

Today will be screening the debates at camp Champ-de-Mars, right in downtown Port-au-Prince. We anticipate thousands of locals to be in attendance at tonight’s screenings, and we look forward to updating the blog with images and a report with how things went. Below are some images from last night’s outdoor movie screening at Camp Carrefour.

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

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Open Air Cinema’s Screening of Haitian Presidential Debates in Camp Villaembetta, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

Today marked the third day of the screening of the first round of the presidential debates, today in camp Villaembetta in Port-au-Prince . The outdoor movie screening was as successful as days past, as we worked with FilmAid International and crews of local Haitians in producing the event. Each day’s screening requires meeting with the local camp leaders and receiving permission to screen the debates, as well as arranging for a proper location for the setup of the inflatable movie screen and system equipment.

Camp Villaembetta was about 45 minutes away from our operational base, and we began setup around 3 PM. For a moment we thought the weather would bring rain to our event, and so we were prepared with tarps and plastic to cover the outdoor projector and outdoor speaker system if it started to pour. Luckily, we only saw a very slight drizzle, and all of the equipment remained safe and in working order.

In addition to screening the presidential debates, we also showed several films about voting, hygiene, and camp life.  The residents of camp Villaembetta were particularly excited to view their favorite Haitian comedian after the debates and short films. There were times when the entire audience erupted in laughter and cheer as (ironically), the comedian pretended in a skit, to be a presidential candidate, and found himself in several silly situations.

Overall, we are very happy with how the screenings are going. We are looking forward to implementing a few additional media items to the programming. Tomorrow we will have a live video camera on hand, as we will be inviting residents of the camp to come up in front of the audience and share their stories.  We will also feature a live storybook reading by one of our lead technicians who has been working with the camps for months in reading books to the children. We are excited to update the blog with how tomorrow’s events turn out.  We are thrilled that the technology of Open Air Cinema’s outdoor movie systems can bring educational opportunities and a moment of joy to the residents of the refugee camps whose lives were devastated in the earthquake that struck Haiti over a year ago.

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

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Open Air Cinema’s Screening of Haitian Presidential Debates in Camp Accra, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haiti outdoor movies

Tonight we completed our second day of screening the Haitian presidential debates via outdoor cinema in camp Accra, Port-au-Prince, . The outdoor movie screening was a huge success, with an estimated 2,500 audience members in attendance. The event started off by showing the short film we created in camp Accra itself. The audience was thrilled to see themselves on the big screen, as the film highlighted many of the community members and their daily lives. The crowd erupted in cheers as one resident after another was highlighted in the documentary. We are going to continue to screen the short film at the beginning of each outdoor movie event in the camps over the next week.

For tonights screening, we used the OAC Cinebox system again, and it worked flawlessly, helping us to have a successful screening. Local Haitian animators or MCs led the event with charisma, keeping the audience excited throughout the screenings. We ended the evening off with a screening of a short film by a comedian that is loved my many Haitians. The crowd erupted with laughter and cheer as they watched one of Haiti’s favorite comedies.

We have been training local crews to assist in the production of the outdoor movie screenings, as we have several days next week where we’ll be producing multiple events in one night. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but look forward to continuing to promote democracy and safety in the camps of residents whose lives have been devastated by the earthquake of more than a year ago.

Below are some images of tonight’s outdoor movie screening at camp Accra in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Haiti Outdoor Movies

Haiti Outdoor Movies

Haiti Outdoor Movies

Haiti Outdoor Movies

Haiti Outdoor Movies

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Open Air Cinema’s Filming of Camp Accra in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

Young residents of camp Accra in Port-au-Prince,

Yesterday we continued our filming of camp Accra in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Open Air Cinema and FilmAid International produced a film of camp Accra to be shown tonight as we screen the presidential debates to the camp. We will continue to screen the footage before each of the outdoor movie events over then next week as we work with the different camps around Port-au-Prince.

Here are some images of camp Accra as we gathered footage and sound for the film. Keep checking back on the blog over the next week, as we’ll be updating as we continue each day.

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Open Air Cinema’s Outdoor Movie Screenings of the Haitian Presidential Debates: Camp Lycee Jacque 1er

outdoor movies haiti

Screening of the Haitian Presidential debates at Camp Lycee Jacques in Port-au-Prince . March 10, 2011

Tonight was the first outdoor movie screening of the Haitian presidential Debates at Camp Lycee Jacques 1er in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Overall the evening was very successful. Stuart Farmer from Open Air Cinema led productions operations and we were able to hire a team of local Haitian assistants who have worked with FilmAid International for past projects in Haiti. The Haitian Presidential outdoor movie screenings were funded by USAID, and part of the project is to employ locals in the operation, therefore giving back to the community in a more significant way.

Micheal Morgenstern, operations manager from FilmAid was also present to assist in making a successful screening. The team arrived to the camp at noon, and began to setup the inflatable movie screen system near the entrance of the camp where there was a large clearing. Yesterday we rented a van to transport and store all the equipment in, and we decided it would be best to project out of the back of the van for security and ease of use (see image below). The Open Air Cinema Cinebox system made setup easy, as the projector and audio visual console was all setup and ready to go. The setup went so quickly and efficiently, that we actually had a couple hours to spare before screening time at 6pm.

In addition to the outdoor movie screenings of the Haitian presidential debates, we screened several instructional videos about hygiene and camp life. We documented the day’s events through photography below. We will continue to update the blog with our activities in Haiti in the coming days.

outdoor movies haiti

Residents of Camp Lycee Jacques in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

OAC's Stuart Farmer works with local Haitians to produce screenings of the 2011 Haitian Presidential debates in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Outdoor Movies Haiti

Camp Lycee Jacques residents wait for the screening of the debates to begin.

outdoor movies haiti

Camp Lycee Jacques residents wait for the screening of the debates.

outdoor movies haiti

Camp Lycee Jacques residents watch the Haitian presidential debates.

outdoor movies haiti

Camp Lycee Jacques residents watch the Haitian presidential debates.

outdoor movies haiti

Projection of the presidential debates out of the rear of our rented van.

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Bangkok, Thailand: MTV Exit and OACF Screen ‘Intersection’ at Youth Center

The other day we posted about the screening of ‘Intersection’ at The Hub Youth Center in . It was a great event organized by Childline . But we didn’t yet provide much background information about the animation or about MTV Exit, the campaign that actually produced it.

The MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) campaign is a multimedia initiative produced by MTV EXIT Foundation (formerly known as the MTV Europe Foundation) to raise awareness and increase prevention of human trafficking. The MTV EXIT Foundation is based in Southeast Asia and has been working since 2004 to raise awareness about human trafficking in the region. They have produced a number of music videos and TV spots to inform youth about the problem. Starting in 2008 they staged a series of concerts in (see above), , , , Thailand, and a number of other countries in the area. The MTV Exit team is preparing for another round of concerts over the next two years.

Most of the victims of human trafficking come from smaller villages and rural areas. These areas do not have ready access to media. OACF looks forward to working with MTV Exit to carry this important content to those will benefit most from seeing it.

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Bangkok, Thailand: OACF Joins MTV Exit for the Opening of The Hub Saidek Youth Club

UNICEF estimates that 900,000 primary school-aged children in are either not in school or are not enrolled in school at the right age, and even more children are missing out on a secondary school education. Also, an estimated one million children have no birth registration documents. Without these it is much harder for them to claim their entitlements to education, healthcare and legal protection from abuse.

Childline Thailand Foundation (CTF) runs a nationwide 24-hour telephone helpline with an easy-to-remember number – 1387. Childline provides its services for any child under the age of 18. The foundation works with various government and NGO stakeholders to safeguard the rights of every child as outlined by the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC).

Yesterday CTF hosted the grand opening of a new center in central near the main railway station. The youth club’s projects are aimed at children and young people ranging from ages five to 18 and experiencing the following circumstances:

  • Homeless/sleeping rough in the Pomprab District
  • Struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • Living locally but experiencing abuse or a difficult home environment
  • Not actively enrolled in school
  • Facing difficulties in school / struggling with education
  • Struggling with loneliness

The Open Air Cinema Foundation was invited to provide two screenings of ‘Intersection’, an animated short produced by the MTV Exit campaign. Most of our equipment is presently en route to Bangkok from , but we were able to provide two projectors and other essential equipment for the event. OACF is looking forward to partnering again with Childline Thailand at The Hub to show more movies to the youth.

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Open Air NGO Film Festival: Concern Worldwide in Lao PDR

Concern Worldwide in Lao PDR

I wasn’t expecting to get much done today because it is a national holiday leading into an extended weekend. But after seeing the office for Concern Worldwide’s office just down the street from my hotel I decided to stop in to take a look. Turns out that the staff were all in office today, including the regional director from the main offices in Ireland.

I only briefly introduced myself and gave a quick rundown of OACF‘s plan to organize a regional NGO film festival later this year. As Concern Worldwide has offices in and Laos we’ll be looking to see if we can find some way to work together to inform communities throughout the region about their work.

The Organization

Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organisation dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. We are a non-religious organisation; we respect the beliefs of all people in Lao PDR. Concern Worldwide has its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

Concern Worldwide has been working in Lao PDR since 1992 providing development assistance to the Government in a number of provinces.

Concern Lao’s vision is of a country in which the basic needs of the people are met and in which everybody has access to the resources and opportunities necessary to lead healthy, fulfilling and peaceful lives.

Concern Lao’s mission is to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable and ensure that their basic needs are fulfilled in a sustainable manner. This will be achieved by enhancing communities and individuals access to and control over resources; by strengthening the capacity of government and civil society to meet the aspirations of the people, and by promoting pro-poor policy making and participatory processes.

Concern Worldwide is guided by these core values:

  • Development is a long term process
  • Greater participation leads to greater commitment.
  • Environment must be respected.
  • Equality is a prerequisite for development.
  • Governments have primary responsibility for poverty alleviation.
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Open Air Cinema Foundation Returns to Laos

I’m on a train passing over the Mekong for a return visit to . The Open Air Cinema Foundation is looking to connect with the coordinators of the risk education programs at the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and UXO Lao.

There are still many active bombs and munitions leftover from the War. Our goal is to work with these organizations to take our outdoor cinema systems into the villages to educate villagers and children how to report UXO when it is found, and avoid injury.

I’ll be visiting the offices of both organizations tomorrow and will be updating here on the blog as I go along.

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OACF at the Lifescapes Film Festival: In the Middle of the Bridge

Since the Open Air Cinema Foundation has its beginnings in the town of on the Thai-Burma border, this film was particularly interesting to us.

Shortly after the defeat of the September Revolution in 2007, hundreds of monks tried to flee to foreign countries. Some of the leaders landed in Mae Sot, where they remained hidden underground.

The starting point for the film is based on the consequences of the Saffron Revolution that each of the protagonists has experienced in a different way.

The film focuses on the one hand on the personalities and motivation of these men, who take responsibility for one of the biggest democratic movements of our times. On the other hand the film tries to find out more about the situation and life in Burma, a country that because of its closed border policy does not allow any access to show the reality.

One year later: We meet the monks at JFK airport in New York. A further getaway into a world that couldn’t be stranger, torn out of context.

About the Directors

Karin Dürr and Carolin Röckelein work in the fields of documentary film and video artworks including room installations, stage design, video and sound compositions. The Gipfelfilm network, founded in 2003, is a collaboration between these two artists.

They have been working together with different film production houses and various artists, musicians, dancers, composers and writers. Their working process includes: concept and script, cinematography (HDV), directing and editing (Final Cut Pro).

Both studied communication-design (Diploma) and Visual and Media Anthropology (MA) and have been working in Berlin since 2007.

In 2004 they co-founded Aug.eNwald e.V. (non-profit association) and the artist and design group PopUpShop. They recently have been working closely together with Ensemble für Städtebewohner (Vienna/ Berlin), and on their own documentary and scientific projects dealing with different cultures and social grievances in a political and personal context.

Their films were shown on Arte TV (Germany and France), in different independent German cinemas (i.e. in Bamberg, Berlin and Trier) and on Film festivals in Germany, Japan and India (Cinéfleuve Saarbrücken, DOK Leipzig, GIEFF Göttingen, Kyoto shortfilm festival).

Their Video-artworks and installations were shown in various galeries and festivals, i.e. in Mannheim (‚Wunder der Prärie‘ – international festival for theater, performance, dance and arts), Frankfurt a.M. (Frankfurter Modemesse), Luxembourg (Lx5), Zürich (gallery MÜ), Trier (Cybergärten und wirkliches Grün, Kunstakademie), Berlin (English Theatre), Traunstein (Kunstraum Klosterkirche ) and Vienna (Radowanhalle, Hotel Fürstenhof).

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OACF at the Lifescapes Film Festival: Burma in Pieces

Shot in Burma and over 2 years, Burma In Pieces is a poetic sound and visual metaphor of life under a military dictatorship, pieced together from 150 hours of original material, interviews and archive footage. Filmed on bustling city streets and in remote mountain villages, in trains and markets, guerrilla resistance compounds in the landmine infested Burmese jungle, refugee camps on the Thai border, Buddhist temples, schools and kick boxing tournaments, the film offers intimate and unique observations of life in Burma under the shadow of the military dictatorship that controls it.

For decades, the horrific human rights violations and political oppression in Burma has gone untold and unnoticed by the world, and while this situation has changed in recent years, Burma is still a closed society and its people remain distant statistics in a world desensitized by the horrors of conflict.

During the Lifescapes Film Festival OACF was able to connect with several organizations working closely with migrant and refugee communities along the Thai-Burma border. We are now establishing partnerships with these organizations to conduct open air film screenings in the border areas around , Sangklaburi and Mae Hong Son.

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Lifescapes Film Festival: Agrarian Utopia

We have had a fantastic time at the Lifescapes Film Festival in . The selection of films so far has been spot on. The Open Air Cinema Foundation (OACF) is looking to work with many of the directors here to find ways to screen their work on open air screens throughout the region, particularly during OACF’s Mekong Mobile Film Festival to take place next year.

Agrarian Utopia was the first film screened at the festival today. Its a beautiful film by Uruphong Raksasad. Take a look at the trailer for a glimpse.

Agrarian Utopia

Facing seizure of their own lands, two families found themselves farming together on the same field, hoping to get through just another rice-farming season like every year. But no matter how much the world is evolving, how much the country is going through economic, political and social changes, they still cannot grasp that ideology of happiness.

How can we dream of utopia while our stomach is still grumbling?

The Director

Born in 1977 to a farming family in the district of Terng – 60 kilometres from Chiang Rai, northern part of , Uruphong Raksasad came to for the first time when he was 18 to further his study at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he majored in film and photography. After graduation in 2000, he had worked as a film editor and post-production supervisor for several Thai feature films. Since 2004, he left quietly from the industry and has tried to achieve his grassroots filmmaking through the story from his home village.

Apart from filmmaking, what interests me to an equal extent is agriculture. I feel it is among mankind’s most noble professions. To compare, in agriculture we get to produce food from the soil for direct consumption, while other occupations only produce us income for buying food. I wonder whether all these professions we have in the world (including filmmaking) are really necessary. How much does the world really need them? I feel that the more we complicate things, the more it produces emptiness and unfulfillment in return, one way or another.

Modern agriculture is facing problems on many levels, from land ownership to national policy’s focus on economic growth and international competition. What are all these for ultimately? I wonder if globalization forces today have become much more powerful than national governments. I don’t know where it will take us.

Agriculture in Thailand today, and perhaps throughout the world as well, is mostly no longer about household use. It’s just another industrial business of trades, with an aim to make money for solving other problems that we caused, directly and indirectly. So farmers now need to focus on productivity by using chemicals and machines, and obviously they put less importance on food safety. With this, Thailand no longer has what it takes to claim to be the granary of the world. I was born a farmer’s son. Although my parents didn’t expect me to farm for a living, as they see it’s hard work and earns little. We can no longer farm in any case for two reasons: one is that the bank has already taken almost all our lands. And second, farming won’t help us paying off all our debts in this lifetime. We are not able to live the idealistic, utopian life. We can only do the best we could to get by, that’s all.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand: Open Air Cinema Foundation at the Lifescapes Southeast Asia Film Festival

We will be hopping a flight bright and early tomorrow morning for () to attend the Lifescapes Southeast Asia Film Festival. The Lifescapes program will screen contemporary films – documentary, docu-drama, dramatic – to showcase thoughtful work with a social conscience. The festival hopes to raise awareness the film culture and filmmakers of Southeast Asia who make meaningful social commentary with their work – showing the “beautiful” without flinching from “grim reality.”

The films will explore regional issues within mainland Southeast Asia: , Lao, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and . The program will be interactive, offering directors, producers, NGO representatives, and audience members the opportunity to join together in post-screening Q&A sessions, panel discussions, and talks throughout the program.

In addition to the films, presentations include the use of music in film, the purpose of film to merge beauty, entertainment and social conscience, as well as film censorship in SE Asia. We will also hear from training organizations in SE Asia who provide opportunity for young, local filmmakers to tell their stories through film.

The main objectives of the Lifescapes Film Festival are right in line with the mission of the Open Air Cinema Foundation:

Objective 1
To use film and cinematic art as a medium to explore regional issues and human rights struggles within the five mainland Southeast Asian countries: Cambodia, , Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (Mekong Sub-Region).

Objective 2
To celebrate Southeast Asian filmmakers who insert meaningful and necessary social commentary into their work; thus, successfully merging cinematic aesthetic and social conscience.

Objective 3
To converge the media, education, and NGO sectors in the Mekong Sub-Region to engage in dialogue, forge relationships, and build ideas between groups to further global and regional initiatives.

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Luang Prabang, Laos: Interview with Luang Prabang Film Festival Director

has no working cinema but that didn’t deter Gabriel Kuperman from becoming the founder and director of the first-ever Film Festival in December 2010. The festival of Southeast Asian films was a big hit with tourists and locals alike and is set to run again in 2011. We speak to Gabriel about the struggle to bring films from around the region to , how Lao teens got involved, his amazement at the turnout and his hope to show Lao sub-titled films at this year’s event.

has produced very few films throughout its history, has just one operating cinema in the capital and none at all in Luang Prabang. What drove you to set up the first Luang Prabang Film Festival last year in such an apparently film-unfriendly place?

Precisely the fact that there was such a small film culture in the country is why I decided to set up this festival! The main goal of our project is to help stimulate a more active film industry here in Laos, while getting the younger generations more interested in the art form. Internationally, there have been several very positive examples of film industries that have sprouted as a result film festivals started in places without much film. It is my hope that we see the same effect here, though I recognise it might be a slow process.

Can you tell us a little about what went into setting up the outdoor festival? How much work does it involve to set up a festival from scratch?

The task of setting up a film festival in a country where few people had ever heard of such an event was no easy feat. It seems I spent as much time explaining what the festival would look like, as I did planning for it. The majority of our hurdles came as a result of limited funding, though the vision and format of our festival put a great deal of extra work on our plates as well.

You can find the full interview at Travelfish.org

(The Open Air Cinema Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 organization that provides training in outdoor cinema technology to help educate, empower, and engage communities around the world. OACF recently partnered with the LPFF mentioned in this article to provide equipment and technical support throughout the event. Open Air Cinema works closely with the OACF to advance their mission by providing technical support, training, and volunteer technicians for OACF activities.)

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