The CinemaArena project. Credit: Italian Foreign Ministry
The CinemaArena project. Credit: Italian Foreign Ministry

A project by the Italian Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration and the Italian Interior Ministry, aims to educate potential migrants in small villages in Africa about the dangers of undertaking the migrant journey. The project, CinemArena, uses film as the medium for raising awareness.

A project by the Italian Foreign Ministry titled CinemArena uses film as a tool to help share information that can save migrant lives. The project, in collaboration with the UN migration agency International Organization for Migrants (IOM) and the Italian Interior Ministry, will travel to small villages in Africa to raise awareness about the reality surrounding migration, especially the serious risks that migrants face during their travels. 

Film screenings in remote villages 

With a large white cloth as a screen, mounted to a truck, the project brings screenings to remote villages in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, and Sudan. When the sun goes down, a film is shown for entertainment, which allows for the village to gather and then hear information about the dangers of the journey to Europe. Luigi Maria Vignali, director of migratory policy for the foreign ministry, said the project is not a way to dissuade those who wish to leave, but to allow for a "choice that is conscious of the risks involved for those who want to leave their country."

Film is the most suitable tool for getting in touch with isolated communities, as well as getting the attention of young people, with unaccompanied migrants now making up 15 percent of migrants to Europe. "The traps and serious risks of the journey for unaccompanied minors are unknown to the many families who, hoping for a better future for them, trust their children to traffickers," Vignali said. He said that in addition to the exorbitant prices charged for the journey, with minors ending up victims of exploitation. 

Project to reach over 200 villages in 40 areas in Africa 

Starting in the month of October through the end of April, the open-air CinemArena project is slated to reach more than 200 villages in 40 areas across Africa, with financing from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It will screen films and awareness-raising videos in which migrants themselves talk about the dangers they faced in their journey to reach Europe. They speak about crossing the desert or the Mediterranean, as well as the risk of expulsion once they reach Europe. CinemArena originally began in 2001 and thus far has provided educational and informational campaigns on health and HIV prevention.

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