Many Romanian rural communities have been in the attention of NGOs lately, that tried to ease the access of children to education.
Many Romanian rural communities have been in the attention of NGOs lately, that tried to ease the access of children to education. Thus, teachers have been sent to areas where they were needed the most. This gave the PATRUPETREI team the idea to hold a number of short film workshops for the children in Calarasi county, as part of a project dubbed FOCUS.
Andrei Dudea, the leader of the PATRUPETREI team, has given us details: ”The FOCUS project consists in fact in several documentary film workshops, for children aged 10 to 14. We hold theory workshops, because we want to develop their critical spirit. This means that we get together, watch films or other media products children usually like, such as music videos. Children particularly like vlogging and mainstream music. When we watch documentaries, we try to analyse them, discuss the lead roles, the topic approached and the way the film was made. We discuss general staff and not get into technical details given that most children participating in these workshops are aged 11 or 12. We try to show them that editing, and music can influence a lot a media product. We are trying to make them understand this, because an important part of this project is to develop their critical spirit. ”
After the theoretical approach, the practical part follows. Andrei Dudea: “We hold some practical workshops, which means that we go to them with the camera and teach them to film, to pick a theme for their project. As an example, the most frequent themes are about football. All boys wanted to make films about football in the communities we visited. After we help them pick a theme, we teach them how to work with a camera and let them take cameras home and work independently. So, they work with the mentor first to learn the basics and then do it by themselves or in small teams. This is important, because this also helps them become more responsible.”
Andrei Dudea has said the idea is mostly to develop children’s self-confidence: ”Our main interest is to make them learn about responsibility. In this case, participants in the workshop learn about building a project and how it can be carried out. I believe it is important for the project to be completed, no matter how interesting or uninteresting it may be. We also work on building their confidence. We have held three workshops so far and the fourth one follows. We have found two very talented children among the ones we worked with. ”
The second edition of the FOCUS – film workshop for adolescents was held during the pandemic, which prompted some changes in how the project unfolded, part of it being held online. A mini-documentary was made on this topic, about how the young people delt with the changes around them and the challenges they faced when schools were closed and they started online classes. Children learned how to tell their own story by means of cinema, with the support of their mentors, Andrei Dudea and Ruxandra Gubernat.
According to Andrei Dudea, children know more than we would expect about films: “Children are today much more exposed to the media, they have mobile phones, they make videos, go on TikTok, Instagram and they know how to express their ideas. ”
The short films made by children were turned into a documentary that also shows glimpses of rural life during the pandemic and the reaction of villagers to lockdown.The project will continue this year in a Rroma community in Calarasi.