Community stories of conflict – training youth in film production

Documentary, South Sudan, 6 x 10 minutes, 2016

South Sudan, the world’s newest country has been shattered by war and is struggling to find peace. Violence operates at multiple levels; between the government and rebels, between Dinka and Nuer tribes, between neighbouring communities and within communities themselves through revenge killings.

Youth, the leaders of tomorrow, are part of the solution to stem the violence and bring about much needed peace.

South Sudan Youth Film

Reelmedia was commissioned by Norwegian People’s Aid to train 10 youth in practical video production skills, in order that they could be enabled to tell intergenerational stories of conflict in their communities and try to find local solutions to the multifarious forms of violence.

The youth, 5 boys and 5 girls, were from 3 different communities across South Sudan; Mvolo, Rumbek and Terekeka. Each community had its own acute issues around violence and, by nature, unique ways of solving issues of conflict.

Reelmedia trained the youth in a classroom environment first, before accompanying them to collect and edit stories of conflict in their communities.

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The youth were trained, first in Juba, the capital, for 5 days and then accompanied to carry out practical filming and editing in their communities. Each community would produce 2 films over the course of 4 days, collecting 4 interviews per film, as well as illustrative footage to tell the individual stories of conflict.

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The films were shot using basic film equipment, that were easy to use and light enough to carry easily and students were tutored closely at first, before moving to a more hands-off approach as they gained in confidence. Each student took turns in the various roles of director, producer, camera operator and interviewer over the course of the shoot.

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At the end of the filming period, each community was left with cameras and a laptop, so they could continue to use film to capture stories around conflict on their own. The final films were shown in the communities, with each film preceding a general discussion on how communities thought each issue of violence could be resolved.

Using film to capture and generate intergenerational dialogue around issues of conflict in communities in South Sudan is a small but important part of the on-going peace process. Training the youth of South Sudan in filmmaking and giving them the practical and theoretical tools to continue to make films beyond the life of the project is an exciting step in solving the complex nature of conflict in South Sudan.

Rumbek

In Rumbek, youth identified cattle raiding and land disputes as areas of conflict which they wanted to film. Working alongside the film consultant, Tim Webster, from Reelmedia, the young filmmakers arranged interviews with a wide range of people from the community, including the Minister for Information, a cattle camp leader and a women’s group leader.

Cattle raiding in Rumbek

Problems of land in Lakes State

Mvolo

In Mvolo, causes of conflict differed to Rumbek, since in Ovolo they are agriculturalists. The youth decided to focus their films around water resources and border disputes. Mvolo has vast water resources that, in the dry season, become a magnet for communities elsewhere. This can bring two opposing communities into conflict with each other as they meet around a water resource. Long-running disputes in the border areas also were a source of conflict and many people in had fled from fighting and looting in areas neighbouring other communities.

Border disputes in Mvolo

Conflicts around water sources

Terekeka

Terekeka was the third and final location for filming. Youth here wanted to produce films on intertribal violence and on the issue of insecurity in the region – their feeling was that with more police, violence could be dealt with quickly and trouble would be less likely to flare up. Reelmedia helped the youth develop their ideas, interview contributors, film general footage and edit their films, all over the course of 4 days.

Intertribal violence in Terekeka

Insecurity in Terekeka

To find out more about how the films were made, or if you are thinking about using filmmaking in a development, conflict, or post-conflict setting, contact Reelmedia using our contact page or email: hello@reelmediafilm.com

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