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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 Thailand 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 Bangkok 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 Laos, 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 Laos 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 Cambodia 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 Laos. 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 Vietnam 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 Mae Sot 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 Thailand 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 Mae Sot, 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 Chiang Mai. 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 Thailand, Uruphong Raksasad came to Bangkok 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 Chiang Mai (Thailand) 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: Cambodia, Lao, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. 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, Laos, 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: UNICEF’s One Minutes Jr Video Clips Screened in the Open Air

One of the most interesting components of the Luang Prabang Film Festival was the One Minutes Jr. program. Fifteen young students from Laos participated in filmmaking workshops held in Vientiane, Laos. By the end of the workshops each student had produced a simple one minute digital short. Each short was screened on an open air movie screen on the opening night of the film festival.

Oneminutesjr videos are sixty-second videos made by young people (between the ages of 12 and 20) from all over the world. Time may be limited in a oneminutesjr video (this challenges the youngsters to form their ideas clearly), but not the freedom to express oneself creatively, which is the basic right of every person.

The oneminutesjr network is a non-commercial community without any set political belief or ideology. The network gives young people, especially those who are underprivileged or marginalised, the opportunity to have their voices heard by a broad audience. To share with the world their ideas, dreams, fascinations, anxieties and viewpoints.

All the oneminutesjr video clips screened at the Luang Prabang Film Festival are available for viewing online at

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FilmAid International Projects Hope in Haiti

FilmAid provides the children of Haiti what many doctors can not bring earthquake survivors, a moment to forget about the pain and suffering the last six months has brought. Dr. Jon Lapook reports.

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

Luang Prabang has no working cinema but that didn’t deter Gabriel Kuperman from becoming the founder and director of the first-ever Luang Prabang 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 Luang Prabang, how Lao teens got involved, his amazement at the turnout and his hope to show Lao sub-titled films at this year’s event.

Laos has produced very few films throughout its history, has just one operating cinema in the capital Vientiane 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

(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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Open Air Cinema Foundation: Update from Southeast Asia

There has been a lot going on since January, so we wanted to send out an update so that you can see where we have been over the last few months and where we are going this year. We are all really excited with the direction the Open Air Cinema Foundation is going and hope that you will follow along as we move through Southeast Asia.

First off, in December we joined with the Luang Prabang Film Festival in Laos. It was the first festival of its kind in the UNESCO World Heritage City, and by all accounts a great success. We will have more articles coming over the next few weeks with photos and details of OACF’s participation in the festival. The LPFF has invited us back for a larger festival next year, along with a traveling roadshow through the provinces. We’ll be there, no doubt!

Following the film festival, Blaine Johnson (OACF) teamed up with Tiana and Stirling Silliphant from the Indochina Film Arts Foundation (IFAF) on a three day ‘reconnaissance’  trip to Ponsavan Province in Laos. We were looking for ways to expand IFAF’s ongoing Bombs to Art Project and to make some links with local government authorities on a UXO risk education project that OACF is opening. The initiative would take an Open Air Cinema Foundation team through Lao provinces still affected by the bombs left over from the Indochina Wars. We would work with local de-mining groups and governments to create digital media that would be used to inform local villagers how to report unexploded ordnance that they find in their villages and fields. We would then take the educational shorts on tour through villages to be screened on our inflatable movie screens. If you are interested in learning more about this project, or would like to offer support, please contact us.

In early January, an OACF team consisting of David Farmer, Dean Adams and Blaine Johnson flew to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to assist the Indochina Film Arts Foundation in editing and organizing their massive collection of film and video footage. We also look forward to returning soon to Vietnam to explore more options for outdoor screenings within the country.

Some good news: Dean and Blaine have advanced to the semi-final round of the Echoing Green Fellowship. We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to hearing in late-March whether we advance to the final round.

At the moment the OACF is gathering in Bangkok for some planning sessions, then Blaine is off to Cambodia to meet with the director of Cambofest Film Festival. We will then fly to Luang Prabang to prepare the outdoor cinema equipment for our upcoming involvement in another regional film festival in April. We will announce more details once they have been finalized.

Stay tuned!

(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. 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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Vote for Two Open Air Cinema Entries on!

Two Open Air Cinema systems are in the running for the best Football Home Theater Contest on! The six contestants are vying for one of two Cisco Flip Ultra HD Camcorders, and whoever has the most votes will walk home with the prizes. We’re proud to see two Open Air Cinema Systems in the contest, and we’re asking the readers of the blog to vote for the Open Air Cinema systems! Here are the links to the two entries:

outdoor movies

One contestant has entered a photo of an OAC Home 16′ System, and it sure looks great! Vote for this Backyard Theater!

Another contestant submitted a photo of an OAC Pro 16′ System. This particular system was donated by Google to the Kenya Field of Dreams project and was used by an organization called Moving the Goalposts to screen the FIFA World Cup this summer to the villagers that otherwise would have not been able to view the World Cup! The system remains in Kenya for use by the local organizations. Vote for this Backyard Theater!

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Open Air Cinema Profile: Eric Kabera of the Rwanda Cinema Center

Eric Kabera of the Rwanda Cinema Center

Eric Kabera of the Rwanda Cinema Center

ERIC KABERA is the Chairperson of the Rwandan Film Festival, renowned producer of ‘100 Days’, forefather of the Rwanda Cinema Center and many young film makers in Rwanda attribute their success to him. The reason being: ‘His work has yielded fruits’.

Since the inception of Rwanda Cinema Center in 2001, Kabera has trained people on how to produce films for a period of three years. His hard work later materialized with the introduction of the Rwanda Film Festival which was officially launched in 2005.

Kabera said: “I had watched several movies produced in Rwanda by foreigners and the idea of the local people producing their own movies clicked in my mind thus leading to the formation of the Rwanda Film Center.”

“Like any humble beginnings, the organisation (Rwanda Cinema Center) was started within my house but later with the help of different parties like; Ministry of Sports and Culture, SIDA, NPA and several others, it become productive.”

“It was the passion and desire to give something to the countrymen that drove me into starting the center.”

During this year’s 6th Edition of the Rwanda Film Festival, amazing short movies and comedies produced by locally upcoming movie directors and producers portray the fabulous work conducted at the Rwanda Cinema Center.

‘Africa Celebrated’ is this year’s theme according to Kabera, ‘one can celebrate even their challenges’.

He has produced over ten independent movies and his favorite is ‘Ingali lwa Alphose’ (Alphose’s bicycle). ‘Africa United’ is Kabera’s upcoming adventure movie yet to be released in September this year.

Born on July 5th, 1970 in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo to Mr. Pheneas Kabera and Mrs. Immaculate Niyonambaje, Eric Kabera is one of the last siblings in the Kabera family.

He attended primary school at Primarie Karisimbi, Keshero Secondary School, Goma Institute of Education where he attained a Diploma in Education and Child Psychology.

After dropping out of a Law School (Institute of Faculty of Law in Goma) he came to Rwanda in 1994 and worked as a Freelance Journalist for several Media Houses such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Writers Agency.

“I extensively worked with several foreign Media Houses after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, the Writers Agency  in 1997 offered a special course in London regarding Media broadcast, writing International News which I participated in and attained a certificate,” Kabera explained.

“ I embarked on making documentary films and in 1998 I teamed up with Nik Huges of Vivid Features and made the first Genocide film ‘100 Days’ which I produced,” he said.

In 2000 Kabera went to Hollywood for a special training in Post Production, Directing and Editing with top Hollywood Producers and Directors.

“Although the course was expensive since it cost $250 per class and they were ten of them, I came back with the idea of strengthening the film industry in Rwanda hence the beginning of the long journey,” the enthusiastic Kabera explained.

Besides being a movie maker, Eric Kabera is a family man—he is married to Alice Migonne Kabera and they are blessed with three lovely children; a boy and two girls, Emika, Erica and Celeb respectively.

With the spirit of Eric Kabera, many are tutored and daily Rwanda’s Film Industry is heading towards a brighter future.


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Nairobi, Kenya: Open Air Screenings of Togetherness Supreme in Kibera Slums

Open Air Community Screenings

In cooperation with FilmAid International and with funding from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi, the Hot Sun Foundation is organizing outdoor community screenings of Togetherness Supreme in Africa’s largest slums. The equipment used for these screenings include a 20′ inflatable movie screen and projector donated to FilmAid International by Open Air Cinema. For more information about these screenings please visit the Hot Sun Foundation’s website, or read the summary below.

The Hot Sun Foundation

Social transformation through media and art is the vision of the Hot Sun Foundation. Their mission is to educate, develop talents, and train youth and children from the slums so that they can tell their own stories. We want their stories to travel far to inspire other slum dwellers around the globe. We want to create role models and leaders. We believe that media and art can enable slum dwellers to reshape their lives and bring about social transformation.

Togetherness Supreme

Togetherness Supreme is the story of Kamau, an artist, Otieno, a hustler, and Alice, a preacher’s daughter, whom both Kamau and Otieno fall in love with. All three live in Kibera, east Africa’s largest slum, home to a million people in Nairobi, Kenya. All three are from different tribes but are searching for tribal unity. During the 2007 Kenya presidential elections their community is torn apart by violence and conflicting tribal loyalties. Their story, set against a backdrop of tyranny, is a beacon of hope in an unjust world.

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Program to Bring FIFA World Cup, Technology and Life Skills to Kenyan Youth

Google Internet Classroom Brings Skills to Kenyan Youth

Open Air Cinema & Google Internet Classroom

Google's Internet Classroom in Kilifi, Kenya

Each evening during the World Cup, the remote village of Kilifi, Kenya is lit up by a giant inflatable Open Air Cinema movie screen. Hundreds of villagers watch the World Cup games as they are beamed in by satellite as part of a special educational event called Kenya Field of Dreams.

Kenya Field of Dreams is supported by a non-profit organization in Kenya called Moving the Goalposts (MTG), which uses soccer and other innovative programs to educate girls and young women, helping them to fulfill their potential both on and off the field. The event is designed to instruct villagers, specifically the local girls, about technologies and empower them to share their stories and expand their horizons.

During the day, girls from several schools around the area attend workshops at the MTG Centre to learn how to use the Internet and receive other skills training.

Stuart Farmer, founder of Open Air Cinema, went to Kenya to train some of the female footballers from MTG on how to use the outdoor cinema system.

“This village in eastern Kenya is so remote, the people don’t even have access to television,” Farmer said. “Thanks to the generous support of Google, which is donating the outdoor cinema equipment to MTG, the people have had an educational and entertaining experience that will not end when the World Cup finals are over. With these newly trained young technicians in Kenya, the outdoor cinema system will benefit Kilifi and the surrounding community for years to come.”

Open Air Cinema has been instrumental in bringing outdoor cinema to communities throughout Africa including Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa.

For photos and more information about the programs, please visit:
Moving the Goalposts website
Kenya Field of Dreams blog
Open Air Cinemas photo album

About Open Air Cinema
Open Air Cinema is the premier global supplier of outdoor cinema equipment. Open Air Cinema has taken its expertise in outdoor productions to produce the highest quality, most concise, easiest to use, theatrical-grade outdoor theater systems on the market. It is also a leading innovator in providing developing nations with educational outdoor screens and open air cinema equipment.

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