One of the most powerful ways to engage and inspire young people is through film. Today, film goes beyond entertainment and fun. It is the most influential and greatest form of creative expression and can be utilized in changing and shaping people’s outlook across communities. Film is unarguably the most desirable thing that children love to see. Film education in schools increases students ‘engagement, inspires writing, improves behavior and literacy attainment. Documentaries cut through because they are genuine and relevant. Documentary film screenings can be used to build empathy and inspire action or educate and create awareness about a subject, topic or issue.
In April 2022, Sysy House of Fame in partnership with The Why Foundation organized the Sustainable Development Goals film festival in some selected secondary schools in Bamenda. The project reached over 500 children between the ages of 14 and 18 years. Six documentary films were screened during the film festival.
These children gained valuable knowledge on the sustainable development goals and what it means for community growth and development. Most of the films screened raised intriguing questions like, “can boys also experience violence, can they be raped?”. This question sparked debates amongst the students. The films equally highlighted their intellectual capacity; Mark a lower-sixth student said during our interactive session that “The Cameroon government protects women according to the movie but if you come to real life scenario, you will discover that there are still many parts of our country where certain traditions have suppressed women in the society. The government has put the law but the law is not being implemented” and also stirred conversations, like “Girls do not have to keep silent especially when humiliated by someone, when they keep silent, it destroys their physical personality” geared at inspiring action for change and social cohesion in the community.
The film screening served as a safe space for children to share their experiences on the armed conflict, and how it has affected them, Elizabeth explained that “We are always constantly afraid that something can happen at any moment”. We believe that documentaries carry very powerful messages that promote peace and sustainable development.