BENEFITING: OPEN AIR CINEMA FOUNDATION
EVENT DATE: Dec 31, 2011
Sesotho Media & Development (SM&D)
Sesotho Media & Development (SM&D) makes innovative and unique use of audio-visual media to conduct mass and community focused communication interventions. The SM&D team conducts regular and ongoing facilitated film screenings in a wide range of settings including villages, support groups, schools, prisons and health centres as a communication initiative. SM&D also offers these services to other organisations.
In the last five years HIV and AIDS has become the main focus of the SM&D screening program. SM&D has a wide collection of HIV and AIDS documentary films. Several of these films were produced in Lesotho, and a number of others were versioned into the local language Sesotho. Many films are part of the Steps for the Future film collection, which has emerged out of a collaboration of Southern African and international filmmakers, broadcasters, AIDS organisations and people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs). (see www.steps.co.za)
The HIV/AIDS programme has been guided by international and regional HIV guidelines, including the SADC declaration on HIV and AIDS and national Lesotho HIV and AIDS policies and strategic frameworks.
The Facilitated Screening Methodology
The SM&D team has been trained by the regional organization Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects (STEPS) to use film as a tool to encourage open communication and social change. The films are screened, followed by a discussion facilitated by two of the 9 trained and experienced SM&D team members, the majority of whom are openly living with HIV and AIDS. SM&D receives ongoing mentorship and capacity-building through STEPS.
Through the facilitation process, the screening becomes a learning cycle that allows audiences to watch, reflect and engage with the film and the issues it raises. The role of the facilitator is to guide this process, by creating a safe environment for open dialogue, information-sharing and enabling people to make informed decisions with regard to prevention and living positively.
SM&D has an ongoing screening program that targets key audience groups and has reached over 16,000 people over the last two years. Regular screenings are held at schools, vocational training centres, church groups, youth groups as well as HIV and AIDS support groups throughout the year.
The Mobile Cinema
SM&D operates two four-wheel-drive vehicles that allow the team to conduct facilitated screenings in even the remotest of areas. These mobile cinema units are powered by an alternative, environmentally friendly and low maintenance system. The vehicles generate power into sets of deep cell 12 volt batteries as they drive, which is then inverted to 220 volts through a 1,5 kW inverter, providing stable sine wave power, and an average of 3 hours of electricity for the screening equipment. The mobile cinema units allow screenings to be undertaken in urban and remote areas of Lesotho without access to electricity.
Lesotho Film Festival
From the 18th-20th of March 2011 Sesotho Media & Development (SM&D) hosted the first edition of the Lesotho Film Festival. Funded by Movies that Matter, in Amsterdam the festival was held at the Pioneer Mall Cinema in Maseru and outreach screenings were conducted at Limkokwing University and the National University of Lesotho.
The line-up included a selection of films dealing with human rights issues, courtesy of Tri-Continental Film Festival. Iron Ladies of Liberia and Please Vote for Me from the Why Democracy series were also screened as part of the festival. The response to both of these films was overwhelmingly positive. These films were also screened during the outreach screenings at Limkokwing University. The festival provided local film-makers with the opportunity to showcase their work and allowed audiences to meet the film-makers in person.
Overall the festival was a huge success, drawing close to 700 visitors. Sesotho Media & Development hopes to make this festival an annual event in Maseru.