These films, telling the stories of refugee children, are a tool to fight prejudice, says Ane Aamodt, Campaign Manager at Save the Children Norway.
Save the Children Norway is continuing to advocate for refugee children, in Norway as well as globally. As the Parliamentary election in September represented a victory for the sitting conservative coalition, we are likely to see a continued strict policy towards refugee children. However, the coalition no longer has a majority in Parliament, leaving us with better opportunities to influence the policy, for the better.
A project of rehumanization
We are campaigning against the policy that degrades this group of marginalized children, and we are fighting for them to be seen as what they are: first and foremost children, says Ane. When planning to make a set of films about refugee children in Norway, she was looking for authenticity and universality more than testimonial drama.
The average Norwegian doesn't identify closely with the dramatic experiences of these kids; regardless how of many times these stories are told. However - they can identify with the feeling of being afraid, missing their mother or being excluded. Basically, I wanted the films to rehumanize individuals, technically referred to as refugee children. In that sense, these films are a tool to fight prejudice, Ane says.
Working with vulnerable children
During a process lasting for almost a year, the team at Save the Children Norway identified and interviewed four children of different ages and backgrounds. Their stories became films after a thorough process of interviews, translation, transcription, scriptwriting, approvals, casting and filming, everything supervised to ensure all ethical and child safeguarding aspects were catered for. Some of them highly vulnerable, the children had to be approached with sensitivity and humanity. Due to security and the need for discretion, the children could not be filmed. Therefore, we asked well-known people in Norway to share these children’s stories. And we tried to find people who had a connection, for example we asked the famous Norwegian rapper Don Martin to tell the story of a 17-year old passionate rapper from Afghanistan.
We wanted the children to feel they were listened to, and not only used as a source for a film script. The 17-year-old were present on location and met personally with his idol Don Martin. He also participated in a seminar and the launch of the film. -It makes me proud, the boy says.
Involving ambassadors to tell the stories
Involving famous people generates new audiences and alternative ways of communicating for Save the Children Norway. The rapper Don Martin performed on stage at Save the Children Norway’s annual children’s rights’ seminar where the film was screened, and shared the film on his blog, Facebook and Instagram, with 10K and 7K followers respectively. The film “They were not thieves …” with famous child actress Siri Skjeggedal reached 114,000 views on YouTube and reached a younger audience. The most viewed film featured famous young actor, Marlon Langeland, known from Norwegian Broadcasting Corporations’s world famous youth series “Shame” (pictured right). This film peaked with 265,000 views on Facebook and has reached an international audience, also through Marlon’s 300 K followers on Instagram.
Overall, the feedback on the films were overwhelming. “Very strong, very authentic”. “I can’t stop crying” and “Thank you for telling this story” are among the hundreds of comments from the viewers. The statistics show 700 000 views on Facebook and YouTube, in addition to screening on physical arenas like seminars, workshops etc. We believe the true engagement from the actors is one of the success criteria, which is especially visible at the appendix of the film, when the actor turns towards the camera with a personal speech to the audience.
Using the momentum
The films have been an important part of a communication package successfully rolled out throughout the year, some of them amplifying political momentums, like e.g. government proposal on forced returns of refugee children, and the discussion around temporary resident for unaccompanied minors. Three of the films feature stories of unaccompanied minors, one feature the story of imprisonment in Norway upon return to home country.
Watch the films here (English subtitles available):
Read more about Save the Children Norway’s campaign for refugee children: