Working it out together
In Argentina, young people are finding an important platform to shine a light on children’s rights. Since 2005, Un Minuto por mis Derechos has been bringing creative youths together to make one-minute films. Over 2,000 young Argentineans aged 12 to 21 from various backgrounds have participated in the project over the past four years. Most of them live in impoverished areas of the country where there are no activities or places for them to express, discuss and communicate their ideas.
During a five-month period, the young people create, direct and edit a one-minute video. With the support of the facilitators who conduct the audiovisual trainings, the participants learn technical as well as visual and critical-thinking skills. They gain a new sense of confidence as they use the camera lens to examine the world around them. Through their creative process, they engage in dialogue with their peers, reflect upon their rights and think critically as they convey their messages.
Most of the teens have no filmmaking experience prior to the workshops, and their openness to visual experimentation is expressed in the range of styles and approaches to the videos. Many of the young people choose to use animation. Playing with their newly acquired visual language allows them to give new meanings to their realities in a creative way.
Teamwork is a key element in the workshops, which offer not only technical support but also guidance on addressing difficult and emotional subjects. It is a natural and open way for participants to delve deeper into issues that affect their lives. All the participants are encouraged to share what’s on their mind – and all of the videos are a result of group collaboration that leads to special ties and friendships.
“There was a part that was tough... We absolutely needed to get the shot, and thanks to everybody we did it, and it was great. When we finished I was very happy. And everybody noticed that,” says Mariana, a participant from Salta.
In the process, the young videographers learn to look at their rights from different perspectives – not solely as individuals but as a group of young people who share the need and urgency to speak up.
Evolution of a Project
The Argentinean project grew out of the global OneMinutesJr. initiative, launched in 2002 by the European Cultural Foundation, the One Minutes Foundation and UNICEF. Developing new tools for youth and social change, OneMinutesJr. gives children and adolescents from all over the world the opportunity to have their voices heard by sharing their ideas, dreams, fears and hopes through one-minute videos.
In Argentina, the project took on the specific theme of children’s rights because its organizers saw a need for wider public knowledge and discussion of this issue. They recognized the opportunity to connect the idea of freedom of expression with the creative process of developing a video – and the idea of youth rights with the critical process of producing a video.
In cooperation with UNICEF Argentina, Un Minuto por mis Derechos is implemented by Kine Cultural and Educational Foundation (Fundación Cutltural y Educativa), which promotes the social inclusion, culture and education of children and adolescents through the support of media projects. In 2008, the Arcor Foundation and the C&A Foundation got involved by organizing trainings and workshops in different provinces, including Buenos Aires, Chaco, Córdoba, Corrientes, Jujuy, La Pampa, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, Salta, Santa Fe and Tucumán.
Participation in the project is open, and the young people get to hear about the programme in the schools or through local organizations. Some of the participants don’t attend school and there have been cases in which the project had helped them reintegrate, opening a new path of possibilities as the project offers these young people the challenge of expressing themselves creatively by using their newly acquired filmmaking skills, producing their own unique one-minute long video on issues that concern them and their rights.
Diverse youth, diverse topics
The topics of the videos are as diverse as the geographic regions in Argentina in which the youths live, reflecting a range of realities and priorities. Among the issues addressed are free speech, identity, sexuality, domestic violence, discrimination and exclusion, as well as youth cultural expression and the environment.
"Violence towards children and adolescents is an area of concern that affects the lives of many young people," says Nadia Vázquez, an 18-year-old from San Martín de los Andes who participated in the project in the province of Neuquén. Nadia hopes that the government will do something about the violence – and that making videos on the subject will help to open up the discussion.
“Violence is everywhere: in the neighborhoods, in the houses. It is not only what TV shows. In many cases," she says, "people hide it.”
By providing a visual language that is close to them, notes UNICEF Deputy Representative in Argentina Ennio Cufino, Un Minuto por mis Derechos videos allow young people to “show the issues around their realities, and express their opinions and points of view, to make themselves heard.”
Reaching a wide audience
Intended to sensitize, educate and promote the fulfillment of rights throughout Argentina, the short films developed through the project are being widely disseminated. These videos reach the public through national and local TV channels, in cultural centres, schools, seminars, meetings, conferences and training programmes of various national and provincial ministries. They are even shown on the Metro of Buenos Aires.
Special screenings also take place at film festivals in Argentina and around the world. Each October, the videos are premiered at the Ibero American Festival of Short Films as part of the ‘Imágenes Jóvenes en la Diversidad Cultural’ (Young Images in Cultural Diversity) programme. Such distribution gives a wide public audience access to youth perspectives on social issues that affect people throughout Argentina.
The Argentinean youth videos have also reached a global audience. In 2007, the video ‘Protection Beyond Childhood’, made two years earlier by youths from Jujuy, won the Make a difference! competition – the UNICEF Media Magic/PROMAX one-minute video contest organized by UNICEF in New York. The video was shown around the world during the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting in 2007. Another winner, ‘San Expedito, Restricted Area’, made in 2007 by teens from Salta, received two awards at the Mexican Film Festival: the Honour Diploma in Human Rights and the Amnesty International Special Diploma.
So far, over 2,000 one-minute videos have been produced worldwide out of the OneMinutesJr. project. Because of its growth and its promotion of global human rights, Argentina’s edition of the project is widely considered an exemplary youth media initiative in Latin America. A selection of its videos will become part of the Ibero American Video Library of Independent Documentaries for educational and cultural purposes.
As the project begins its fifth year in 2009, even more young people in the provinces will get to share their thoughts and creativity, continuing the larger pursuit of raising awareness, and raising their voices.
For more information on the project, please visit their websites: http://www.1minutoxmisderechos.org.ar/ and http://www.theoneminutesjr.org/.
Click here to see ‘Protection Beyond Childhood’, winner of UNICEF’s Media Magic one-minute video contest in 2007.