Colombia suffered more than 50 years of armed conflict that destroyed its civilian structures as well as fundamental values of its people. It resulted in mistrust, corruption and drug abuse and crime. In 2012 five students from Bogotà founded a non-governmental organisation to help build up their country from the bottom. Their aim is that the inhabitants of the rural areas and the poor outskirts of Bogotá begin to organize themselves; that they learn to trust and to cooperate with each other again, and that they fight together for a recovery in their community. Additionally they want to give kids and teenagers who are the lost generation that knows only conflict a future perspective.
To reach their goal they want to make use of the tremendous power of cinema and moving images. Within four weeks they teach kids from 8-18 years old how to produce a short film that deals in an artistic way with the currently most pressing problem in their community. Once the film is finished it is displayed in a public viewing event they call Cine Comunidad (community cinema) to a broad public from the same neighbourhood.
And then what? The people from the community are looking into a mirror and see their problems from the perspective of their children, narrated in a naïve, brutally honest and at the same time tender way that touches everyone’s heart. Immediately afterwards they cry together, they discuss with each other and begin to act.
Together with more than 200 kids the NGO Populus Proyectos Comunitarios has produced already 14 shorts and shown them in their communities. It is impossible to foretell what will happen in the respective communities after the shorts are displayed. Sometimes it just leads to a discussion, sometimes it sparks a civil movement that prevents the construction of a highway with its associated land expropriation and environmental damage. All that has happened during their 6 years of Cine Comunidad activities. In all former cases the participating kids have witnessed how much they can influence the adults by mastering a camera and almost all of them have continued, for example by forming youth journalist groups. POPULUS keeps on supporting them as part of their sustainability strategy after they have left the community.
POPULUS cooperates with local groups and initiatives. They try to incorporate the civil structures in the neighbourhood like associations if these already exist. The members of POPULUS work on a honorary basis but when funds are available they try to remunerate at least their local partners. The project “Cine Comunidad” was introduced to us by Andrés Bodensiek who is a founding member of POPULUS and is studying currently at Bonn University in Germany. Weltweit e.V. believes that POPULUS is pursuing one of the greatest way to build up democracy in the shattered society of Colombia: By laying the power of images in the hands of the weakest. Please help us to support their cause!