Program Free zone Junior was created in 2006 with an aim to initiate dialogue and expand knowledge in Serbia on current social and political issues across the globe, as well as contribute to development of critical thinking among the youth though usage of engaged films in education, and increase their media literacy, tolerance, and deconstruction of prejudice and stereotype.
The program has grown over the years, and today it encompasses activities in elementary and high schools and universities, as well as extracurricular programs for high school students.
Within sub-program Free zone in elementary and high schools 4 manuals for using film in education in elementary and high school education (accompanied by appropriate DVD compilations) have been published so far. Seminar which is part of that program was so far attended by more than 1300 elementary and high school teachers across Serbia, and the program has become accredited by Bureau for education development from cycle to cycle. After many years of working in elementary and high school education, methodology of working with film as educative tool was introduced also in university education.
Namely, as part of study program of master academic studies by Center for education of teachers at Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, a new subject “Film in education” has been accredited and realized in 2016. As part of this program, and in partnership with People in Need we have also published a manual for students, based on Czech example of usage of film at university level.
Part of the project Free zone Junior are also engaged documentary film workshops for high school students- Regional camp of engaged film for high school students and Documentary film school for high school students Free Zone Filmmaker School (targeting high school students on the territory of Belgrade and its surrounding). The goal of these workshops is to offer high school students an insight into potential of social activism, different aspects of creating engaged documentary film, and to encourage them to take part in intercultural dialogue, encourage and support development of creative ideas.
Project Free zone Junior and Fund B92, as film producer, were awarded in 2010 by Ministry of labor and social policy in category “Best documentary film or TV show on sexual and gender based violence” for the film by then 17-year old film Nikola Polic, who developed his idea and made a film within this project. In addition, documentary films made by participants of Free zone Junior project were awarded on numerous festivals in region.
Young Audience Award, established in 2012 by European film academy, is being organized in Serbia in cooperation with Free zone Junior since 2017. Young Audience Award is prestigious film event for elementary school students age 12 – 14 which is organized yearly and simultaneously in more than 30 cities across Europe with the goal to develop the youth’s interest in European stories, increase their awareness on relevant social issues, and encourage the feeling of solidarity, understanding and tolerance.
Since 2017, Project “Free zone Junior” Traveling cinema with workshop on media literacy and students’ video exhibition, in which 1700 high school students from over 40 Serbian towns have had the opportunity to participate in 2 hours long workshops on media literacy led by Free zone Junior experts.
In 2020, Free Zone Junior has started implementation of two large projects: Our differences our strengths and How do I see you?
Our differences our strengths aims to contribute to promotion of the values such as equality, multiculturalism, acceptance of the Other, as well as respect for cultural diversity among the youth in Serbia. The project directly included 90 selected young creatives from Serbia, age 15 to 26.
Depending on their interest, one part of the group participated in Free Zone Jr. Documentary Workshops, which resulted in the production of 12 documentaries, while the other part participated in Trainings for facilitation of dialogue on topics raised in the films previously made by their peers. Documentary films followed by debates after the screenings will be screened from spring to autumn 2022 at organized film events in high schools and local organizations in 60 venues in Serbia.
The screenings will be part of a broader campaign to raise awareness on the importance of fostering cultural diversity and multiculturalism. The produced films, together with the proposed models of their use in education, will be available on a special platform that representing a valuable resource for using film as a tool for raising awareness on the importance of multiculturalism. The project is funded by Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia – Civil Society Facility Programme and co-financed by the American Embassy in Belgrade and Serbian Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue.
How do I see you? is a comprehensive program including mobility and exchange programs for creative young individuals, filmmakers and influencers from Serbia and Kosovo*, contributing to strengthening of mutual cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo* in the field of culture, art, film, media, human rights and activism.
In the mobility segment, the project consists of gathering and meeting of young people between age 18 – 25 from Serbia and Kosovo* and their active participation in workshops and study visits focusing on research, exchange of opinions and ideas, development of media and film literacy, as well as exploration of shared goals, issues and experiences – all while using a video as a tool for creative expression.
The project includes organization of 6 cultural exchange camps where young people from Kosovo* and Serbia are encouraged to engage in dialogue and cooperation, as well as the opportunity to get to know each other better and creatively express themselves through two-minute videos portraying how they see the Other. How do I see you? is jointly implemented by Dokufest, Free Zone Junior program (B92 Fund) and Free Zone Film Festival, with the financial support of the European Union.
In 2022, we will continue to work on the mentioned projects and develop new initiatives, with great enthusiasm and faith in improving education through the use of innovative and creative tools in teaching.