After South Sudan's independence in 2011, the world's youngest country plunged into conflict again in 2013. This film by the Thomson Reuters Foundation tells the story of South Sudan's young artists battling for peace with music, film and poetry.
Interview with Director Shanshan Chen
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
What inspired me to make the film is the resilience of the young artists. When my colleague and I got in touch with them, they were really open about talking about their work and the situation in South Sudan, which made them great characters.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
People don’t know much about South Sudan and it’s a great opportunity to start to understand the people and the situation in the country. The wider world usually only associates South Sudan with war and violence, so I’d like to find a different narrative and the wider audience can see a different side of South Sudan where the young generation using creativity to tackle the country’s considerable problems.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Music and film are universal languages and can be very powerful – it’s through these art forms that young people in South Sudan not only express their frustrations and their hopes, but also campaign for change in the region.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The story evolved a lot. At the pitching stage, my colleague Inna Lazareva and I were to cover the story of AnaTaban, but I found the group of filmmakers and actors before the trip, and decided to cover both groups' stories. We had quite a few changes during the shoot due to the schedules of the characters and logistical difficulties. In the editing process, I got a lot of support from Nicky Milne, Head of Documentaries at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, to put the two groups' stories together under one theme.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
All feedback has been positive so far, and all the characters featured in the films are very happy with the outcome. The films was showcased at the My Hero International Film Festival, and was given the “Art Hero” Award. It has also been shortlisted for the SIMA Award for Impact Video.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I always knew the young people in the film were great characters and I am gratified that their work is being shown to the wider world by my film appearing in festivals.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope ‘Art For Peace’ – and indeed all the Thomson Reuters Foundation humanitarian films – through screenings and festivals will educate a wider audience about the bravery of these unsung heroes. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is dedicated to digging beneath the headlines of global stories, to find the characters who exemplify the nuances and complexities for individuals living through these global issues - which ultimately affect us all.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Film festival directors, funders.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope after watching the film people can start to understand the situation in South Sudan and give more support to the artists and recognise there is a younger generation trying to move away from the region’s violent past.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can art bring change to a society?
Would you like to add anything else?
Just how moved and impressed I was by the young people in the film and how passionately they believe in their cause. It was a real privilege to spend time with them, admire their craft and witness first-hand how much danger they put themselves in simply for using art to express hopes for peace.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m working on a very exciting project called “Life after Slavery” due to publish late February. Human trafficking and slavery is one of the main topics that the Thomson Reuters Foundation covers. At the moment, I’m putting together all the design, photos and videos to flesh out three individuals’ lives and their ongoing challenges after they escaped from modern-day slavery.
Interview: January 2019
Art for Peace
After South Sudan's independence in 2011, the world's youngest country plunged into conflict again in 2013. This film by the Thomson Reuters Foundation tells the story of South Sudan's young artists battling for peace with the music, film and poetry.
Length: 15 minutes
Director: Shanshan Chen
Producer: Shanshan Chen, Nicky Milne, Georgina Cooper
About the writer, director and producer:
SHANSHAN CHEN is Multimedia Producer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. She’s an award-winning documentary filmmaker and her films have appeared on international media including BBC, Al Jazeera and TIME.
GEORGINA COOPER is Visuals Editor of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. She was a television journalist with the Reuters news agency in the U.S. and London for 20 years before joining the Foundation to oversee video coverage of “under-reported stories”.
NICKY MILNE is Head of Documentary of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. With a vital background in documentary film making, she directs/produces key human rights documentaries, shot globally.
Looking for: distributors, film festival directors, funders
Funders: International Women’s Media Foundation
Made in association with: International Women’s Media Foundation
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? http://news.trust.org/item/20180605085924-wg6ye/