Arab Resource Center For Popular Arts /AL-JANA
 

 BENEFICIARIES

Hana Chamoun

I’ve been involved with AL-JANA ever since I can remember. I have so many childhood memories set in the center in Beirut and in Moa’taz’ mountain house, where we used to gather for activities. As a kid, there was always a magical atmosphere about those gatherings. Sitting in a circle playing instruments, singing, painting, dancing and playing games…

 

When I got a little older, my sister and I joined the jury for the children’s film festival, two years in a row. I met some great people and learnt a lot from that experience. Some summers I went to the Janana summer camp in Brummana High School. I experienced the camp every year I was helping out with the organization and the last and most recent year I took a wonderful Theater of the Oppressed workshop with Egyptian director Noura Amin. We did some beautiful work with Noura, and after the camp was over we decided to form the first Theater of the Oppressed troop in Lebanon. We have performed on the streets of Beirut and in refugee camps around Lebanon. I was also involved one summer in a mural painting project in the Burj al Shamali camp in south Lebanon.

I’ve been involved with AL-JANA ever since I can remember. I have so many childhood memories set in the center in Beirut and in Moa’taz’ mountain house, where we used to gather for activities. As a kid, there was always a magical atmosphere about those gatherings. Sitting in a circle playing instruments, singing, painting, dancing and playing games…

 

When I got a little older, my sister and I joined the jury for the children’s film festival, two years in a row. I met some great people and learnt a lot from that experience. Some summers I went to the Janana summer camp in Brummana High School. I experienced the camp every year I was helping out with the organization and the last and most recent year I took a wonderful Theater of the Oppressed workshop with Egyptian director Noura Amin. We did some beautiful work with Noura, and after the camp was over we decided to form the first Theater of the Oppressed troop in Lebanon. We have performed on the streets of Beirut and in refugee camps around Lebanon. I was also involved one summer in a mural painting project in the Burj al Shamali camp in south Lebanon.

  

It all started when I was 14 years old, when my school principal called me in to his office, and informed me that I was selected, with two of my friends, to represent our school (Tanoukhieh National School – Abey) in a project led by the Goethe Institute in Lebanon, and that included four other Lebanese schools. The project was to produce a short documentary film about a specific type of discrimination in Lebanon, under the supervision of a professional director… and that’s when I was introduced to Director Hicham Kayed in 2003.
 

From a student who knew nothing about film-making and never stood behind a video camera, I grew into a humble co-director of a documentary film who stood in front of the audience presenting his film at the Zoom to Europe Youth Film Festival in Hungary.

This evolution wouldn’t have happened without the immense contribution of AL-JANA and all its taskforce, where I gained lots of knowledge, experience, and exposure in different aspects.


Areej Khaddaj

When it comes to the technical expertise related to filmmaking, Hicham made the greatest contribution; he taught me the skills of shooting, lighting, editing, and creating the scenes. He also introduced to me all the related equipment that was readily available at AL-JANA, and I could have hands-on sessions. He was always there to correct my mistakes, show me alternatives, and provide me with advice and constructive feedback. Finally, after months of learning and applying, we finally produced the 15-minute film “When they Speak Politics”.
 

During all the time spent at AL-JANA, I got exposed to all the activities and projects the center handled, the main one being the AL-JANA Youth Film Festival. I got myself involved with the working group and this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. There were lots of preparations and activities, that each provided me with unique added value. I learned and practiced how to undergo fruitful discussions and carry out teamwork with individuals of different ages, cultural backgrounds, and expertise levels. AL-JANA’s culture fostered collaboration, and hence we managed to create a strong bond between all of us, especially that we were all working for a common objective: having a successful and decent film festival.
 

At AL-JANA, we, as youth, were given a major and decisive role in the process of selecting the films that would be screened in the festival out of hundreds of applying films. The selection process was very professional, whereby for each film, each of the group members wrote his/her notes while the film was screened. Then all those notes were discussed and the details of the movie were analyzed. Afterwards a final decision was reached whether to include the film or not, by voting, if no consensus was reached. This process helped me cultivate many important skills, among which were respecting others’ point of views, negotiation and convincing skills, evidence-based reasoning, and practicing democracy in taking decisions.
 

Moreover, we were given the chance to write critiques on some films that we liked/disliked, with the guidance of AL-JANA’s seniors. This helped me consolidate my writing skills and critical thinking. It also raised my self-esteem knowing that those critiques were to be published in the festival’s magazine that is read by all the attendees, and more importantly professional directors, producers, and critics.
 

Finally, I have to say that my activity with AL-JANA was one of my best experiences, and I used to be so enthusiastic about it that I used to spend hours of my after-school days and weekends at AL-JANA, and didn’t care about the 1-hour public-transportation journey from my home to reach the center!

A final word: I’m thankful to AL-JANA, and Hicham Kayed in particular, for all the opportunities and expertise they provided me with. And I wish AL-JANA the best of progress, success, and achievements.

 

I don't work in this field and I since have become interested in many other interests and activities, mainly Photography. It is close to cinema in some way or another.

I graduated as Electrical and Computer Engineer in 2010, and have been working since then as a Quality Control Engineer at Murex Systems, Beirut.
 

Areej I. Khaddaj

7 October 2016