On 29 July 2019, at the Hall of the Union of Writers in Najaf, Al-Najaf Social Forum held a training workshop on film and video as tools to use against violent extremism. More specifically, the workshop drew attention to the need for strong, visionary directors capable of leading a team in the creation of visual projects which can help people see and act on alternatives to violence. The workshop was called “The Importance of Film and Video Directors in the Face of Extremism” and is a part of NSF’s campaign against extremism.
13 trainees joined the workshop which began with an introduction to the techniques of film and video direction. The head trainer of the workshop, Mr. Mohammed AlMatwaq, explained to attendees,”The role of the director is key for it is he/she who has almost absolute responsibility for the final product. The director’s job is to plan the look and feel the final form the project will have, and to this end, he/she will guide a specialized team who are competent in their capacity to realize the director’s vision.”
After explaining the kinds of technical problems that may arise during the direction process, the trainees were divided into two groups to focus on content, that is, mechanisms they might use to confront violent extremism through film and video. Each group undertook a detailed analysis of selected video presentations and worked to show how nonviolent methods might be effective against extreme violence.
“The arts offer people a common medium to explore peaceful coexistence and can unite people who have been torn apart by political bias and false religious ideas,” Al-Matwaq said during the workshop.
This particular campaign by Al-Najaf Social Forum was launched last May when the forum held an awareness-raising workshop on nonviolent ways to stand up to violent extremism. The NSF works in cooperation with the Information Center for Research and Development, the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative and the Italian organization Un Ponte Per…, all within the larger space of Iraqi Social Forum, NSF gets further support from the Swiss organization FAI’s project, The Masarat of Coexistence in Mesopotamia.
Fatima Al Wardi
Iraqi Social Forum