Moving Docs, in collaboration with CineDoc, invited Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, the director of Sonita, to screen her film and run a couple of workshops in Greek refugee centres.
Read on to find out Rokhsareh's impressions.
After showing Sonita in many "western" countries and finding that it was impossible to screen it in Iran and very difficult to reach audiences in Afghanistan, I was feeling a bit lost. I kept thinking to myself, 'why did I make a movie that has no access to Afghan people and no impact?' And since Sonita's story is about hopes and dreams, I decided to show the film to young people in refugee camps.
Being a refugee from Afghanistan in Europe can be very confusing. The hardships they have faced, as well as their fight for survival, makes it difficult for them to be able to follow their dreams. Their priority becomes surviving each day. Young people need to have role models to look up to and I think Sonita is a very good one. So I designed a workshop to encourage teenagers to make a notebook of dreams, just like Sonita's notebook that we see in the film.
As part of my outreach campaign to show Sonita in refugee camps across Europe, I was very happy to be invited to Greece by CineDoc. Between the 30th November and the 2nd December, Sonita was screened four times, in different refugee centres, in and around Athens. The workshops that followed each screening were aimed at young adults, between 14 and 21 years old and were based on the life skills class that we see Sonita being taught in the film.
At the Faros drop-in centre for unaccompanied minors, I worked with young Afghan boys and spoke with them about how they can work towards achieving their dreams. Most of the boys have dreams of becoming football players. Although they prefer Spanish teams, like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F., they all want to live in Germany. The highest salary they could imagine a professional football player of FC Barcelona receiving was 40 EUR a day. It was a fun session, filled with laughter.
Piraeus Open School for Immigrants
This workshop was, hands down, one of the best experiences I've ever had. A group of hopeful and enthusiastic girls and boys, that had received some high-school education in Afghanistan and Iran and that hoped to be able to continue their studies in Canada, Germany or Sweden. None of them want to stay in Greece. They found Sonita to be a good role model and asked a lot of questions about her. They took the task of making the notebook of dreams very seriously and asked me to leave my journals and newspapers so that they could continue to make collages about the life they dream of having.
Some of the girls and boys I had met at the Piraeus Open School for Immigrants actually live at the camp of Skaramangas, so they helped me organise the screening at the Hope School there. They grabbed their mothers and knocked on their neighbours' doors, explaining to them why it is so necessary they see this movie. The debate that followed the screening was lively and full of love and we finished off by celebrating the 15th birthday of one of the boys, with some delicious cake and music, too!
Moving Docs continues to fundraise for the Hope School of Skaramangas camp. You can read more about it here.