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    Youth Artivists for Change: North Macedonia

    On September 19th 2020 Stichting Art.1 took part in activities in North Macedonia in the scope of the Youth Artivist for Change project. 
     
    The participants follow:
     
    Stefan, 21.
    Bitola – North-Macedonia

    “The story comes from inside of the filmmaker. But it has to get out. It’s then up to the community to accept the story and the community is where the effect takes place.”

    Go-to cinema: The work of Alfred Hitchcock and Krzysztof Kieslowski.

    21-year-old filmmaker Stefan Bozhinovski spoke to Art.1 about his
    motivation for participating in the Youth Artivist for Change filmmaking
    training. “I love film, theatre and the arts. I’d definitely like to work in the film industry. But it does depend on how things turn out. That’s why I want to learn more and more about it.
     
    My project is a short film that focuses on the family situation of an ambitious young person. But he has issues with his parents related to his sexual orientation; they can’t really accept it, as they fear the community reaction and how his life will turn out.
     
    I think it’s important that LGBTIQ+ stories are told because you’re displaying them for people who haven’t witnessed them. It uncovers [these identities] so they won’t be perceived as a taboo.”
     
    According to Stefan, telling queer/LGBTIQ+ stories is important to the filmmaker and their community: “The filmmaker tells a story from their own perception and experience. I don’t think you can tell a story if you do not relate with it in a way or have knowledge of it. I think the story comes from inside the filmmaker. But it has to get out. Once it’s out, it can affect the community into acceptance.”


    Ana, 21.
    Tetovo – North Macedonia

    “In our country cinema’s not that developed.  But maybe some of us are the pioneers of the future. So we have to start everything from scratch. We have great directors, but we need more visibility. The training helped me make connections and build my network with other aspiring filmmakers across the region.”

    Tetovo-native Ana lives breathes and eats cinema, that’s why she enrolled.
     
    Go-to cinema: Martin Scorsese

    “Filming, editing, everything. Making movies is the dream. I like to have [my films] finished up but I also really love the process. I can’t get enough of it; no matter how hard it is, no matter how hard the director is screaming during production days. It’s always a pleasure to do it. It ignites a passion in me, like painting a picture. The director is yelling. That’s the way they make their art… and I love it.
     
    In our country cinema isn’t that developed.  But maybe some of us are the pioneers of the future. So right now, we have to start everything from scratch. We have great directors, but we urgently need more visibility. The training helped me to establish connections and build my network with other aspiring filmmakers across the region, so when opportunities come up, we can collaborate. Its great to see in what stage other people are at in their creative growth.
     
    My story is an animation made on a computer. It’s about a little girl who is trapped in basement, she’s been neglected, since she was a baby and has never seen anything in the world except for four walls and a bed and food. And then she sees herself in the mirror. It’s very strange.”


    Balša, 23.
    Belgrade – Serbia

    “Filmmakers have a responsibility to tell the stories of oppressed groups –such as queer stories – but I think it’s crucial for the stories to be told from the perspective of the person who’s living them.”

    Go-to cinema: probably Gaspar Noé

    “I think the best stories are the ones that make a difference. The stories that come from personal experience. I can’t tell a story about how I kissed my boyfriend in the street because that wasn’t my experience. I can, however,  tell a story in which I was hiding with my boyfriend so nobody could see us. I could tell a story about hiding my relationship from my parents because that’s my experience. I’m not intentionally trying to carry out activism. My experience isn’t openly accepted in my country or the region, so it becomes activism because I’m going to fight for the things that I want and believe in. I think the stories are important just because it’s a real experience authentic of gay people and LGBTIQ+ people.

    My film is about my relationship with my father. I wrote a poem about my dad and the T-shirt that I inherited from him. I’m going to get in drag wearing his shirt. I will read the poem in the background. I want to explore what he would think if he saw me wearing it.

    Filmmakers have a responsibility to tell the stories of oppressed groups –such as queer stories – but I think it’s crucial for the stories to be told from the perspective of the person who’s living it.”


    Nikola, 24.
    Skopje – North-Macedonia

    “My background is as an actor, never as a producer or a director. My reason for getting involved in Youth Artivists for Change was to see how things worked from behind the camera: all the processes behind filming and storytelling.”

    Go-to cinema: Definitely Stanley Kubrick.

    “My background is as an actor, never as a producer or a director. I recently graduated from studying acting. My reason for getting involved was to see how things worked from behind the camera: all the processes behind filming and storytelling. So I can make my own movie in the future. If there is no relationship between the actor and the film crew, then that will be seen in the film. Both the film and the crew must know what the other is doing at all times. They need to understand each other so they can tell the same story. The actor’s job is to show the inner world of the character, while the film crew’s job is to capture that on film. Filmmaking is a collaborative art, so the relationship can be a difficult one, but also a great one. I would encourage anyone who wants to enter the film industry, or would like to know how to produce their own movie to join this kind of workshop because it’s a great introduction to filmmaking and maybe tomorrow they’ll be able to produce their own films.“


    Sofja, 23 
    Skopje – Macedonia

    “I’m a law student and I like trying out new things. I enrolled in the course because I always wanted to try filmmaking. During the course, I realized I could do this 24 hours a day; I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

    Go-to cinema: Christopher Nolan

    “I’m a law student and I like trying out new things. I enrolled in the course because I always wanted to try filmmaking. During the course, I realized I could do this 24 hours a day; I wouldn’t have a problem with that. With regards to queer story telling, I think that people need to be more open-minded and spread their horizons. People shouldn’t judge, like, we’re all humans and I think that’s important to realize we’re all the same. I don’t think that some people should have more or fewer rights because of who they are. They should be able to do whatever they want to do.”


    Boki, 25. 
    Skopje – North Macedonia

    “I was diagnosed with cancer recently, and the connection I see with that and telling the story of minorities – or the LGBT community –  is that we can be misunderstood and the best way to battle that is by telling your story. My goal with my short film is to give people hope and raise awareness that there is a life after cancer.”

    Go-to cinema: YouTuber Peter McKinnon

    “I have a great love of photography and video and when a friend sent me the application for workshop, I immediately jumped at opportunity because I really want to understand the process behind filmmaking.

    It’s important to tell your story or express how you feel because its empowering and builds confidence.

    I think every story is important. When people are educated about a subject, there is less fear.  I was diagnosed with cancer recently, and the connection I see with that and telling the story of minorities – or the LGBTQ+ community –  is that we can be misunderstood and the best way to battle that is by telling your story. My goal with my short film is to give people hope and raise awareness that there is a life after cancer.

    Workshops like this are important because in the age of social media, content is king. You need to know how to tell you story. To educate other people about your experience and what you’re feeling”


    Dafina, 30. 
    Skopje – North Macedonia

    “I work as a high school physics professor. Sadly, one of my students committed suicide. When I heard about this workshop, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about using film to send a message to young people.”

    Go-to cinema: Tom Tykwer

    “I work as a high school physics professor. Sadly, one of my students committed suicide. When I heard about this workshop, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about using film to send a message to young people. According to statistics, every third person is going through mental health issues in some point of their lives. That means from a classroom full of 30 children, 10 will have to deal with mental health issues. I think it’s very important that they get psychological health education.

    In my country its taboo to go to the psychologist, and we don’t speak about mental health. My film is about a 15-year-old girl, in the time before she commits suicide. It explains what could have happened to her if she spoke to a psychologist.

    I made it partly with stop motion, partly in real life with real scenes.

    If you look closely at the school scene, I’ve put some equations on the board. They are taken from American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz’s, butterfly effect theory (the Lorenz attractor), which basically says that little changes in the initial conditions of a function can bring with time, very big changes. So I think that small initiatives like the project ‘Artivists For Change’ can bring big changes.”


    Darko, 22.
    Skopje – North Macedonia

    “I’m making a documentary about internalized sexism, racism and homophobia. I think these issues are not often presented in the media.”

    Go-to cinema: Stanley Kubrick

    “I’m doing a gap year in my university studies and I decided to open my perspectives into other fields, and I want to do more stuff in a non educational part of the of my being, becoming. And as I wanted to learn new things, this is a great new experience, as I can use my previous knowledge in the political and the political science. I’m making a documentary about internalized sexism, racism and homophobia. I think these issues are not often presented in the media. I’m telling my story through three characters. Looking at the problems within their community and the problems when they go outside of their community and they still encounter an internalized oppression, from within.”

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