Children in Cartagena, Colombia, are using short videos to raise awareness of obstacles to peace in their neighborhoods. Through an alliance with the Ministry of Culture, the USAID-funded Program of Alliances for Reconciliation (PAR) supports the International Festival of Cinema in Cartagena (FICCI). FICCI recently allowed children and youth to make and enter their own short films. Filmmaking has proven a very useful tool for youth to raise awareness of obstacles to peaceful coexistence. Youth are also discovering that their creations can bring about reconciliation in their neighborhoods.

PAR supported a two-day workshop where 30 children, aged 8 to 12, engaged in exercises to promote self-awareness as agents of change in their families and communities. Young participants learned hands-on techniques for filmmaking, such as photography, script writing, and acting. The children then produced their own short films, expressing concerns and ideas and sending positive messages to other children about drugs, violence, and environmental preservation.

“I believe that culture is a powerful mechanism for achieving peace in Colombia. It is a way to highlight the values of youth today.” –Guillermo Garcia Hernandez, the father of a film festival participant.

Colombia PAR youth on the movie set
Screenshot from Think and Recycle, a short film produced and directed by young participants of the PAR-backed filmmaking workshop in Cartagena.

The short films made by the young new filmmakers were later featured before audiences at the film festival, including media and other opinion leaders. This proved to be a compelling space to raise awareness of marginalized youth, combatting negative stereotypes.

PAR and the Ministry of Culture will replicate this strategy to empower children and youth to spread their messages through short films. Film festivals including youth are planned for other Colombian cities, including Florencia, San Vicente del Caguán, and Bogotá.