Human Rights through Documentaries: Respecting diversity and encouraging positive change

Human Rights through Documentaries: Respecting diversity and encouraging positive change

Among today's youth in Georgia is a generation of energetic individuals thirsty for news from around the world and highly active on social media. Their curious interest in the world, however, comes with an element of hesitation and concern. For many, these concerns are connected with the memory of the conflict in Georgia, just 10 years ago in 2008. 

The conflict plunged the country into a state of social and economic depression and thousands of Georgians had to leave their homes. Though 10 years of progressive development, peace and stability have pulled people out of such harsh times, the older generations in particular cannot forget what they endured.

For the younger generations, we believe it is important for them to be empowered to explore new ways to approach their future, fulfill their hopes and address the challenges of the future. One way we are trying to support and empower youth in Georgia is through human rights education, and specifically human rights education through the medium of documentaries.

‘Human Rights through Documentaries’ is a project designed to raise awareness and foster healthy discussion among youth around important issues related to human rights. Together with our project partner the Human Rights Academy of the Public Defender of Georgia, we support Georgian civil society organisations to promote and protect human rights and empower young people to promote human rights in their communities.

The project is funded by the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and follows in the footsteps of PIN’s human rights education work in the Czech Republic through the One World Human Rights Film Festival, as well as in countries such as Serbia, Armenia, Mongolia and Moldova through other documentary based human rights education projects.

In Georgia, the idea is simple. Local organisations host small events and screenings at which young people can gather and watch powerful documentaries. After each screening, a group discussion on the topics raised in the documentary is facilitated, and the young audience is encouraged to share their thoughts and listen to the ideas and opinions of others. 

The group facilitators are trained on the Teaching through Film methodology, so that they can facilitate a discussion that generates interest, develops autonomous thinking and encourages mobilisation. The facilitation of the discussion is important, especially when it comes to approaching youth about delicate and important issues such as human rights. By 2019, 1000 young people will have taken part in this Human Rights through Documentaries project.

“In Georgia,” says Nato Antia, the Project Manager of the Human Rights through Documentaries initiative, “we are working in Gori and Senaki Municipalities. These are conflict-affected areas where high numbers of conflict affected families and displaced people live. We are working with young people who are not involved in other activities, not engaged in projects and probably not very active at school as well. We want to show them the power of documentary films for them to become actors of human rights in their local communities.”

“After the screenings, we support young people to implement their initiatives to address local challenges. We really count on the creativity and honesty of young people. We want to give them space for innovation. The topics of the documentaries were selected through an online survey that sought to understand which topics are most interesting for young people. Gender equality and environmental rights were the most requested.”

Antia describes the project in a nutshell, “the messages we want to youth to hear are: respect diversity and encourage a positive change in your local community.”

Author: Irene Itria