Girls for Change wraps up its 3rd edition, placed under the “Li Beirut” initiative after the Beirut blasts
From the heart of the Lebanese capital, the Beirut Film Society completed the first section of the third edition of Girls for Change program, in partnership with UN agencies UNESCO, UNFPA and UNODC, and under the framework of UNESCO’s Li Beirut initiative.
The program allowed 100 girls from the wounded suburbs of Beirut to build their capacities and helped them acquire new skills in the audiovisual realm, in the wake of the port blasts. The participants expressed their gratitude for the learning opportunity that also helped them gain more awareness about mental health. They expressed their enthusiasm over the course of the training to dive into the field of audio-visual arts. The girls unanimously agreed on the positive atmosphere that allowed them to express their feelings and aspirations and to build friendships with their peers.
“We learned about camera basic uses, and shot scenes from different angles. It was an enjoyable learning experience”, said Decil Ayvazian, a participant. “I loved the interaction among the team members and made new friends”, said Kayane Mouradian, while Theresa Khachenian assured: “Talking and writing about Beirut: this is what I want to do”.
Reflecting on the training program that lasted for 3 months, Costanza Farina, Director of UNESCO Beirut Office, highlighted the importance of this project for young girls, “giving them the tools, skills and most importantly the space to express themselves freely after what they went through”. She added: “This program is an integral part of Li Beirut initiative launched by the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, during her visit to Beirut immediately after the port explosions. The initiative aims at placing education and culture at the heart of the reconstruction efforts. Through Li Beirut, UNESCO is standing beside the people affected by the explosions to see them rise again, reconstruct and build forward better”.
On his part, Founder and Chair of Beirut Film Society Sam Lahoud praised the participants' commitment, competence, and quest to develop their skills. He also mentioned that the participants have become alumnae of the program and members of the Beirut Film Society family, calling upon them to apply the skills they have acquired and disseminate them in their surroundings to spread the message of cinema as a tool for change in society. He also underlined the success of the program and the positive results that appeared through the films executed by the participants.
In the course of a session on Drama Therapy that she offered to the participants, actress and director Zeina Daccache explained the principles of coordination, openness and effective communication among them, and gave them the tools to clearly share their concerns and acknowledge them.
The guest speaker of the program, renowned actress Rita Hayek shared her personal experience, and her intervention tackled the stages of her life and career path. She invited the girls to “believe in their abilities and never surrender to the status quo”. She also drew attention to the misconceptions of beauty standards via social media, highlighting the victory of the will of life to overcome crises.
The guest of the second chapter, young actress Gina Abou Zeid, shared for her part the roots of her debut in the field of acting and the most prominent roles she played in students’ films where she was able to explore and discover her talent and passion.
As for the third chapter, it was highlighted by the participation of actress Ranine Matar, who encouraged the girls to accept their mistakes and forgive themselves, pointing out that she encountered many disappointments, but kept on looking forward to success and striving for it.
The training program dealt with different axes of storytelling, the role of women in cinema, the camera basics, sound and music for films, and editing, among others. A special session was also held with psychologist Nisrine El Gerr on the topics of anger management, reconciliation with one’s feelings, addressing various situations and positive self-talk, which are key lessons to help teenagers who are looking to find their identities and to shape their personalities.
On the sidelines of the program, the participants received an awareness session on Media Literacy, proper use of digital media and the dangers of social media. In parallel, they underwent physical check-ups by the medical team of Howard Karagheusian Primary Healthcare Center.
As an outcome of the intensive training program, 9 short films from various genres were fully executed by the participants and will soon embark on a global festivals tour.
Li Beirut is an international flagship initiative launched from Beirut by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in the aftermath of the explosions, on August 27, 2020, to support the rehabilitation of schools, historic heritage buildings, museums, creative industry and to create an enabling and open information environment, all of which suffered significant damage in the deadly explosions.
Beirut Film Society is a non-for profit association that works closely with Lebanese and international filmmakers and with film associations to empower the film industry in Lebanon and the Arab World. In line with its mission and vision, BFS organizes film events in Lebanon and abroad to introduce cinema culture as a cognitively creative representation of human rights and ethics, providing a platform for youth and women to express themselves and to break the ceilings through freely sharing their fears, hardships, dreams and ambitions.