The Filmmaker Using IGTV to Make a Difference

Sometimes Instagram can be productive you know

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Like the introduction of the handheld camera alongside the genesis of the French New Wave movement in the late 50s/early 60s, using modes of alternative filmmaking has a cinematic history of provoking change both behind the screen and for the spectator. 

Tania Safi, a Lebanese/Australian filmmaker, has started using IGTV, a fairly new addition to Instagram that enables mobile-optimised viewing of long-form videos. Similar to YouTube but arguably on more of a dynamic platform, IGTV offers a surrogate to vine-length videos previously offered by the platform. Whilst most people are using this to market us even further into wanting that new eyeshadow palette, Safi is using the platform to interrogate the problems facing the region, from the inside.

 

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My business associate @fishguts took some candids of me in my natural element. (These aren’t them) #organic #real #action #hollywood

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Safi has created the IGTV series ‘Shway Shway’, an incredible series that sensitively brings attention to the intimate struggles of Lebanese women and children, and has documented proactive ways of reducing these struggles. For example, Safi made a video entitled ‘Sustainable Pads in Refugee Camps’, which focuses on creating sustainable period amenities for refugee girls and women in Akaar and disadvantaged women further afield. The pads and menstrual kits are distributed for free as well as provision of self-defence classes and sex education. 

 

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Despite how common and life-dependent they are, periods are still a social taboo. Shockingly, the stats on people not having access to basic menstrual products in “developed” worlds are so high, so imagine what it’s like for refugees? Period shame and inaccessibility is potentially life-threatening for those who are displaced or homeless and who do not have access to menstrual products, let alone education around them. We spent time with Days for Girls, who are trying to combat this shame and inaccessibility by creating pads that last for three years! Handmade by Syrian Refugees themselves, Days for Girls distribute kits to those who need them whilst providing sex and health education to vulnerable Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinians living in Lebanon. For lots of these girls and women, this is the first time anyone has explained pregnancy, their bodies, menstruation and self defence. These are basic things every girl needs to know and I am so grateful that people like #daysforgirls exist for girls and women who would otherwise seemingly be forgotten.

Une publication partagée par Tania Safi (@taniasafi) le

Another video is called ‘Light Inside “An Outdoor Prison”’, which Safi summed up to me as “a studio in Shatila that offers work to 100 Syrian and Palestinian refugee women, offering them skills, autonomy and a salary when they otherwise would have no jobs. With the permission of Shatila Studio and leaders of the camp, I visited this space that the world has seemingly forgotten about to investigate why and how Shatila Studio operates”. 

 

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Goth fam having lunch.

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Other recent videos as part of the series include a video highlighting the NGO IAHV Peacebuilding in Tripoli that helps children mentally hurt from the war, and Haven in Beirut which is the only all-inclusive LGBTQ+ and women’s safe space in the country. 

 

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This pride month I’m BEYOND proud to share a very special video featuring @havenforartists. Haven is the only Beirut based NGO that provides a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community, women and emerging artists from the MENA region who face persecution or regional issues that make it impossible to expose their work. As an out queer Arab woman, Dayna Ash founded Haven after she saw and experienced the desperate need for a space that not only would feature emerging local and international artists, but one that would be open all day to act as refuge for those who need it. For some, this is a life-saving space for those who would otherwise be homeless, without community or unemployed. Haven is an all-inclusive space that the community in Beirut and wider Lebanon appreciate to no end. It is accessible, welcoming and a slice of calm in an otherwise bustling and sometimes overwhelming city. From the artist residencies, free galleries, workshops, screenings, gigs and so much more, there is no space quite like it anywhere else. Directed, produced, edited and shot by Tania Safi Camera assist by Rachelle Hair Vices and Validations event footage by @gababji (Gab Haddad)

Une publication partagée par Tania Safi (@taniasafi) le

To watch more from Safi’s incredible series, click here

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