Children walk beside a painted wall inside Jarmaq school in Yarmouk camp, April 14, 2015. The text on the wall reads in Arabic, «It’s my right to learn.» (photo by REUTERS/Moayad Zaghmout)
Despite the cruelty of the war in Syria, community-based initiatives emerged from the pain from which society is suffering. As international initiatives crowd to resolve the intractable crisis, Syrian youth keep their initiatives on the local level without getting into politics and its ramifications. They focus on the people’s concerns and needs.
International news agencies and newspapers rush in with their cameras to capture scenes of the war in Syria to report on the daily news and events. However, Peace Lens is an initiative not related to the world of news, but based on documentary filmmaking.
The initiative’s team believes documentary filmmaking conveys the reality as it is through the camera lens and turns this reality into a series of pictures and scenes, to encourage the viewers to agree with a particular opinion or do a certain thing.
Documentaries are the most important tools nowadays, not only for their ability to influence the current situation. They can be used in the future as a deterrent for future generations, preventing them from entering into conflicts after seeing the amount of suffering resulting from the current conflict in the country.
The initiative’s team quotes Mikhail Kirkorov, a professor at the Petersburg State University of Film and Television, who said, “Syria is now the most important theater in the world for the documentary industry.”
Bashar al-Majdalawi, an official in the initiative, explained the project’s objective and work process: “The initiative was presented to the United Nations Development Programme. It is a cultural art project that brings together a group of people interested in filmmaking. They are taught how to shoot documentary films to convey social problems.” He added, “It is called Peace Lens because we wanted to link between documentaries and peace in light of our current situation.”
Majdalawi said, “A lot of things must be highlighted. We selected 10 young people, from different [social] categories, from the 40 people who applied for the course, according to UN standards and those of the project’s organizer. They were gathered in one place to brainstorm for a comprehensive idea for all the people in Syria to highlight peace.”
“At the end of the workshop, the film is shot and marketed — whether at festivals or special screenings — or posted on social networking sites, in order to make viewers think of solutions for the problems we are facing. We only put the problem in the spotlight, we do not give solutions,” he said.
Majdalawi added, “Such work could help the people we put in the spotlight in getting the support they need from organizations and institutions that care about them.”