Open Eyes – Human Rights Films for Schools

Eugenie Musayidire, Andrea Kuhn, Jean-Pierre Muhire, Alfonzine Mukanyanduri im Gespräch mit Schüler_innen nach Filmvorstellung "Der Mörder meiner Mutter" (2007).

Open Eyes, the school film project of the NIHRFF, combines innovative ways of cultural and political education. In contrast to the biannual NIHRFF the Open Eyes school film project holds a one-week event each year. Since 2007, Open Eyes has been generously supported by Stabilo International GmbH.

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The most important component of the project are the Open Eyes school screenings: As a low-threshold event the screenings of exceptional films are meant to educate students about human rights issues while at the same time strengthening their media skills. All film screenings take place in the morning or early afternoon and are accompanied pedagogically. Each screening opens with a short introduction to the issue of human rights in general and the subject and the aesthetics of the respective film in particular. After the screening either the filmmaker, protagonist, or human rights experts discuss the film with the students. All films are (unless available in a German version) translated by the festival and subtitled or dubbed live during the screening to allow for a maximum understanding of the films for all kids independet of their English and/or reading skills.

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In addition to the school screenings, Open Eyes offers students an opportunity to dig deeper into the subject of film by becoming members of the Open Eyes Youth Jury. They will then watch selected festival films in special screenings and discuss them among themselves to select the film they believe to be best suited for human rights education in schools. During the awards ceremony of the festival, the jury then read their self-written eulogy and present the Open Eyes Youth Jury Award, worth € 1,000 (sponsored by Stabilo International GmbH) to a representative of the winning film. The work of the Youth Jury is continously accompanied and tutored by the Open Eyes staff.

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Since 2009, the Open Eyes Youth Reporters form the third leg of the project: In cooperation with the editors of the Extra youth pages of Nürnberger Nachrichten, the biggest regional newspaper, 5 students are selected to report each on a respective festival film. Individual film screenings are then scheduled for the young reporters, in which they watch and discuss their respective film with the NIHRFF-team. The editors of the Extra section of Nürnberger Nachrichten lend editorial support to the young film critics and publish their reviews in in the newspaper during the film festival. The aim of this project module is to interest young people in commited filmmaking by informing and intersting them through their peers.

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In the interim year between festivals, Open Eyes offers a one-day film studies seminars for teachers which aims to increase their film literacy and enable them to follow-up on the Open Eyes discussions in their classrooms in a critical and informed way. Topics in the past included “Film Analysis,” “Reality and the Construction of Meaning in Documentary Filmmaking” and “Film Narration”. The Open Eyes film seminars are recognized by the state of Bavaria and are open to all teachers.