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International film collaboration builds bridges of change

Published: 29.4.2021

Now is the time to look to the future - through the eyes of youngsters! Four young people from Vaasa will make international film history with their friends from Bellingham and Tateyama, Japan, thus building bridges of change between the countries.

In 2008, the City of Vaasa entered into a cooperation agreement with Bellingham in Washington State, USA. This developed into a so-called Sister City agreement in 2010. The exchange has so far mainly involved cultural exchanges.

Now more than ever before, youngsters need to be given new opportunities to meet other young people around the world. With the goal of developing empathy and a greater understanding of each other, a 3-day joint film workshop for youngsters from Bellingham is being organised together with youngsters from Bellingham’s twin cities: Vaasa, Finland and Tateyama, Japan. The project is organised by Bellingham’s Youth Media Project in collaboration with Film Building.

Now more than ever before, youngsters need to be given new opportunities to meet other young people around the world. With the goal of developing empathy and a greater understanding of each other, a 3-day joint film workshop for youngsters from Bellingham is being organised together with youngsters from Bellingham’s twin cities: Vaasa, Finland and Tateyama, Japan. The project is organised by Bellingham’s Youth Media Project in collaboration with Film Building.

Vaasa became inspired

This is exactly what we needed after a year of corona isolation, says Susanna Slotte-Kock, External Relations Officer of the City of Vaasa.

When we were contacted by Bellingham, we immediately said yes and promised to find youngsters who were willing to participate in this exciting project. Using film making as a creative tool to bridge cultural differences and be able to observe similarities between cities is quite in keeping with the spirit of the times.

Diane-Christine Blusi, Vice-principal of Vasa Övningsskola’s Upper Secondary School, was also pleased with the contact made.

Our students were immediately involved in the idea. Examining one’s local environment and home and explaining one’s own habits to those who come from elsewhere makes upper-secondary school students see themselves and their lives in a new light, says Blusi.

There is even a media course on our students’ schedules right now, so this came at the perfect time, says Visual Arts teacher Lisette Smedlund happily.

A project on three continents

Four enthusiastic youngsters from Vasa Övningsskola: Lise Strandberg, Matilda Byholm, Julia Berg and Emilia Liljedahl will participate in the workshop, which will be held from 28 April- 3 May. They all think it will be exciting, even if it involves early mornings because the film project is spread over three continents.

During the film workshop, the girls will get to work in small groups together with their new American and Japanese friends, where they create short films under the theme “resemblances “.

It is important to be able to highlight the similarities of the cities while the youngsters learn to see what is unique in their own hometowns. The theme also gives participants an opportunity to think about the importance of twinning activities and in this way a completely new generation can be involved in new forms of international exchange.

The groups will communicate via Zoom and social media and edit their footage via a cloud-based editing tool. The workshop will culminate in a screening of finished films on Monday 3 May at 07:00. Register for the film screening here.

Films can also be viewed later on the website of Film Building or Bellingham Youth Media Project.