The quiet streets of Annai Nagar resound these weeks with the sounds of “Silence, sound, camera, action” as the 6th to 8th standard students take on film production roles and complete the final stage of a six month leadership and film making program which has culminated with each of the children making their own 2 minute film on a societal issue they feel passionate about and a new world they want to create.
This program is a co creation between Thamarai and Yatra Media Arts Foundation. It has been funded through the Auroville 50th fund and has supported children and youth to see themselves as agents of change in their own communities.
This story began in 2012 when Dr. Monica Sharma, former director of leadership and capacity development with the United Nations, started coming to Auroville to offer Stewardship for New Emergence, a leadership and capacity development program that supports participants to get in touch with their innate qualities, what they really care about and how to solve problems with valued based solutions for change. Both the Yatra and Thamarai teams have had continual training with Monica ever since and 6 months ago they shared the program with children who responded enthusiastically to it. The children now embrace what they each stand for and are designing projects such as waste and water management, the development of sports activities, and fostering peace and unity in their village. This was followed by weekly classes on film production, skillfully guided by Srini and the Yatra Arts Foundation team, that started from the history of film, to understanding how films are created and the techniques to script, shoot and record their own films.
The program integrates children of different castes from the three villages Thamarai, Udhayam and Yatra after schools projects operate in. The children have grown in capacity, confidence and skill and now understand that what goes on behind the film screen can be a lengthy and rigorous process. The children have been supported to take the necessary steps for project implementation, to reflect on the experience and to dream about the greatest impact that they can make.
What has changed because of this program ?
The children have learned the skill of film production, values based project design and how to speak up for change. They have grown in confidence and resourcefulness. Caste and gender barriers have been subtly worked on as friendships blossomed. Now the children prepare to present their films in a carnival atmosphere in the village ground in early March so parents and neighbours also become part of this adventure!