Perform2Reform: Training in Thessalonki

The youth exchange ‘Blended Mobility of Young People’ from the Perform2Reform project is taking place between the 23rd to the 29th of September in Thessaloniki, Greece. 

Organized by the Thessaloniki Youth Club for UNESCO, the main goal of the exchange is to allow participants to share ideas and receive information and training on how to deal with LGBTQI+ issues by using artistic and social tools and practices, as well as to present the outcomes of the Intellectual Outputs of the Project. 

The group is constituted by young participants from Greece, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Cyprus and The Netherlands, who engage in multiple activities that include team building exercises, lectures, group trainings, role-play exercises, practical cases and advocacy trainings. 

On the first day, participants could learn about the Intellectual Outputs of the project. This included the manual “Rainbow in the Pocket”, which will function as a manual for teachers and youth workers who wish to address LGBT+ topics through art and games. It was presented by Didi Šišić and Aleks Kovač from Legebitra (Slovenia), who also engaged the participants in a workshop about privilege and equality of opportunities. North Macedonia was represented by Zorica Zafirovska, who, besides explaining the process, also showed us footage from the rehearsals of the performance that they are developing about the stories of LGBT+ people in the country. Afterwards, the output “Routes”, from Cyprus, was presented by Maria Varnakkidou (Accept LGBT). We got to see two out of the four short films that were made, documenting immersive theatre performances, where the audience was riding in a car with the actors and witnessing their phone conversations regarding LGBT+ topics. 

On the next day, it was time for Stefania Bouri from the Thessaloniki Youth Club for UNESCO to present Greece’s output: a short film with interviews to LGBT+ people from the country, which will then be complemented by a workshop on Saturday.  

Furthermore, the participants had the opportunity to take part in multiple workshops, such as “Gender Equality in the EU politics”, given by the former Parliamentary Assistant, Maria Brokou; “Legally combating Gender-based Discrimination in Greece”, by Despina Natsi; “Words matter - sexism in everyday language” by Athanasia Zaprou, and “Human Rights: for whom, how, when?”, conducted by Christina Azopoulou. 

The week goes on with more activities such as the ones organized by the Gender Alliance Initiative and the participative sessions about translation and gender with Sofia Georgiadou. 

During the exchange, the participants have also had the opportunity to become familiar with the city of Thessaloniki as well as with the distinct realities of all the participating countries. 

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“Perform to Reform” (P2R) project is an initiative by Stichting art.1 which aims to develop tools based on performative arts and soft skill methodologies in order to address sexual diversity topics and to create powerful and adaptable techniques for youth workers and educators.


Queer Film Days in Albania

Between 18-22 September 2019 a new film event happened in Tirana, Albania. Entitled “Queer Film Days” (QFD), the program consists of a number of films and events which highlight topics that refuse to be invisible and tell stories that “create a new cultural space”.

QFD has been organised by Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), headed by Arber Kodra, and in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana, the EU delegation, Stitching Art.1 and the International Human Rights Film Festival Albania (IHRFFA).

The events are also a part of the Youth Activists for Change (YAC) project which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. YAC aims to empower filmmakers, storytellers, artists, and activists in creating art and performances focused on human rights/LGBTIQ+ rights and gender equality.

The festival opened on 18 September with a second showing of the award-winning exhibition ‘Culture of Humiliation’ by Macedonian artist and human rights activist Antonij Karadzoski. Through his artwork, he aims to break down stereotypes and raise awareness of important human rights issues such as bullying in the LGBTI community. The event kicked off at Europe House.

A number of films were shown over the days of the event, the first of which is ‘I Am Sofia’. This film was screened 19 September at Kinema Millenium and a Q&A with the director took place afterwards.

On the 20 September, there was a screening of a film called ‘Until Porn Do Us Part’ at the Academy of Film & Multimedia. The protagonist of the film, Sydney Riviera was also in the attendance and he was answering questions from the audience after the screening.

On 21 September it was a matinee of films ‘Scar Tissue’, ‘High Tide’, and ‘Up Close and Personal’ which was shown at Europe House.In attendance were Dutch LGBT police officers Marja Lust and Abdel Late, and a Q&A will take place.   

The last day of event 22 September took the shape of a presentation of the final results of the filmmaking training undertaken by Youth Artists for Change Project including individuals from both Albania and Kosovo.


The LightHouse Project

Today we submitted our project proposal The LightHouse Project in the Open Call for Cinemas as Innovation Hubs for Local Communities from the European Commission. The LightHouse Project consists of a consortium with cinemas, cultural institutions and film festivals from Latvia, Hungary, Italy and The Netherlands and aims to turn cinemas into vivid iDeaHUBs for young artists, filmmakers and creatives. How? By organising pop-up LightHouse Film Festivals, conducting workshops in VR, Podcast and film and an extensive exchange fo cinema programmers who will bring their finest curations to cinemas in the other participating countries. Besides Stichting art.1, International Queer & Migrant Film Festival, Cinema of the Dam’d and Stichting Ado Ato Interactive participate in the project. Results will be made public by the end of November. Stay tuned!


Art.1 Radio #12 - Letters For The Lonely

Eddie describes the night of his arrival in the Netherlands, having just left behind his successful life in Jordan, with many friends.


Art.1 Radio #11 - Three Lives

A person from Chechnya, now living in the Netherlands, tells us about his first, second and third life.


Screening Up Close & Personal: LGBT Police

On the 19th of July, International Film Festival Prishtina (PriFest) screened ‘Up Close and Personal: LGBT Police’, a film by Chris Belloni which documented the lives of LGBTQ+ police officers from different countries around the world, conveying a portrait of how their sexuality or gender identity played a part in their profession. The session was opened by the Dutch Ambassador Gerrie WIllems, and it was concluded with a debate with two of the police officers starring in the film: Marja Lust and Abdel-Aziz Laten, who are part of the Dutch police network “Roze In Blauw” which assists cases of violence or discrimination against LGBTQ+ citizens. The ambassador Marriët Schuurman also took part, as well as Salih Dragidella, the officer responsible for Gender Equality and LGBT issues in the Kosovo police.
For a detailed report by Kosovo2.0 click here


Your Artists for Change in Prishtina: Queer Film Days and Filmmaking Workshop

Between the 16th and the 21st of July, art.1 had a very exciting time in Prishtina, Kosovo. While the 11th edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival took place, the project Youth Artivists for Change brought the Queer Film Days into the program, screening several movies which regarded LGBTQ+ topics.

The opening consisted of the film ‘I am Sofia’, which told the story of a young transgender woman from Rome and the challenges she faced. The protagonist herself, Sofia Qyvalar, was present at the event and, after the film, she took part on a debate about the importance of art for LGBTQ+ activism. Alongside her, sat Marriët Schuurman (the Human Rights Ambassador for the Netherlands), Chris Belloni (filmmaker and founder of art.1), and Erblin Nushi (a filmmaker from Kosovo who emigrated to the USA), for a conversation moderated by Sudeep Dasgupta, a professor from the University of Amsterdam. All of them shared their experiences and engaged with the audience in a discussion which touched multiple topics such as the clash of different realities, emigration, the creation of communities and the importance of film
festivals.

The program went on with films such as Consequences - our Queer Film Days selection - from the Slovenian director Darko Štante, which later won the prize of Best European Film, awarded by the festival jury.

Alongside the screenings and the debates, it was also time for the first filmmaking workshop to take place in Prishtina. The Dutch trainer Nienke Eijsink and the local trainer Gazmend Nela introduced the group of young participants to the primary notions of documentary making and how they can be used to talk about Human Rights, LGBTQ+ issues and Gender Equality. The workshop was hosted in the Drop In Center, managed by Centre for Equality and Liberty (CEL), another partner of the project. The group of young people took great advantage of the safe space to talk about things that really mattered to them, such as asexuality, the process of coming out, fetishes and activism. By the end of the training, they all had produced short films, some were documentaries, while others were animation pieces or stories created from past experiences that they had had.

On Saturday, 20th of July, we all gathered in CEL’s safe art space to watch their work being screened. Donarta and Raven worked on a piece about bullying and fat shaming, while Valza created an animation alerting for violence. Bjeshkë made a documentary about the protests which had taken place in the previous day, regarding the police discrimination towards the Roma community in Kosovo. Gentrit created an animation about feet fetishism, and about the taboos and prejudices it involves. With Donarta’s help, Alba also told the story of how a friend of hers commited suicide due to an unexpected pregnancy which would not be tolerated by her family. On top of all of this, there was still time for an animation about being asexual, developed by Vernesa, and an animation about coming out of the closet as a lesbian, created by Alba. Raven also produced a short film where he interviewed everyone and made a summary of the workshop that showcased how much fun everyone had had (especially when they had to get very crafty and creative to find ways to overcome the absence of tripods :-)

 

The festival continued until the 21st of July, when art.1 left Prishtina with a bittersweet feeling and looking very much forward to see more of what these young artivists are going to do in the future.


Attending the Training Refugees+ for Youth Workers in Brussels

Recently, our intern Clara Mendes participated in the training Refugees+ which took place in Brussels, organized by JINT and funded by Erasmus+. 

Besides her, other twenty-three people from 20 different nationalities joined the training, eager to learn about each other’s projects and practices concerning the integration of young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their countries of residency. 

The training was conducted by Jana Pajic and Pepijn Hellebuyck who worked hard to maintain a good balance between work and fun throughout the week. The multiple ice-breaking games and group activities were a crucial part in order for the participants to establish very close relationships with each other and to feel comfortable in sharing more about their life and work experiences. 

The organization made sure that the participants got familiar with multiple NGOs which are actively working on these topics within Belgium. For instance, representatives from Tumult and PIN came to the venue to present their project Navigate You(th), through which they have developed a peer coaching system so that refugees who are already established in the country can help newcomers finding suiting activities for their free time while articulating the process with their families. 

The group also had the opportunity to visit different cities in Belgium and to get to know the environment in which other NGOs work. Some of the participants went to Antwerp, while others made their way to Louvain, or stayed in the area to further explore Brussels. Clara’s group went to Ghent, where they got to know Refu Interim (who aims to promote the social and professional self-sufficiency of newcomers, through paid volunteering experiences), Jong (an open house in the neighborhood which welcomes young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, where they can find support and multiple activities) and JES (an urban laboratory developing innovative projects for children and youth in Belgium). The day ended with a wonderful session of communal cooking under the orientation of a Kurdish Syrian family and some magic tricks performed by some of the youngsters from the youth center.

The rest of the days were filled with workshops, presentations and debates, organized and carried on by all the participants, plus very touching personal stories shared by the ones who were also refugees. Topics discussed included sexual health, trauma, self-care, local action and youth participation, alongside activities such as dancing or visiting an Arabic bookshop. 


On the last evening, at the Open Arts House Globe Aroma, an artistic work and meeting place that newcomers can use to improve for their own cultural and artistic development, the group was surprised with a workshop of Dabke, a traditional dance performed by Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and Jordanians. It was the perfect (even though exhausting!) end for an incredible week, full of captivating ideas, hopes, projects, friends, cultures and lots of languages.


Pride Parade in Ljubljana

This year’s Ljubljana’s Pride Parade took place on Saturday, 22nd of June and art.1 had the pleasure to be a part of it.

The parade happened on the last day of the Festival Parada Ponosa, which lasted for 12 days and included several cultural, performative, political, conversational and educational activities.

This year’s message focused on drawing attention to the culture of hate which targets LGBTIQ+ community and other marginalized groups.

On the morning before the parade, a bazaar took place in the streets of Ljubljana, as well as a Living Library, organized by Stichting art.1’s partner, Legebitra. The Living Library is a project which aims to encourage active dialogue as a way to tackle stereotypes and prejudices. In the library, the books are real people who are willing to share their real stories with whoever wishes to “read” them. This year’s topic was “Intersectionality” and it brought together 18 queer people who also belonged to or were somehow related to other minorities.

In the afternoon, the streets of Ljubljana were flooded with colors as 2500 people walked by, danced or even cycled along. Towards the end, the crowd gathered in one of the main squares to listen to the political speeches and to watch a supersized rainbow flag being released from the top of the city castle.

The evening went on with different artistic performances just before the party in Metelkova, which made possible for everyone to wrap up this very important day with lots of fun and dancing.