about the project
online courses
Made at our training course
We are proud to present the three films produced during our Frames of Understanding training course held in Belgrade in March and April 2017. The films were group efforts of the training course participants in raising awarenes about the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe through film, focusing on the chellenges the migrants are facing on their road to an intended better life, as well as on the ways this crisis is being dealt with by various organisations involved.

Film directed by
Olga Komarevtseva
documentariy film maker,
training course participant
from Germany
The contributions of the training course participant varied from producing video footage, sound recording, photography, transcript, translation, video and audio editing and other post-production activities. The films were shot on various locations in and around Belgrade, Serbia. In the other sections of our web site you can also read the articles or take a look at the photographs and video clips made during the training course.

Film directed by
Kristina Božić
information design student,
training course participant
from Austria
The whole group would like to thank everyone who took part in producing the films, from the migrants we made contact with to the people at the Refugee Aid Miksalište, Belgrade, Asylum Protection Centre in Krnjača, and people from the CKPR organization. On our web site you can find the discussion between the CKPR organization representatives and the training course participants as well as the interview with the representative of the Asaylum Protection Centre in Krnjača about the chellenges the migrants and the people who work with them encounter every day.

Film directed by
Krisztian Bako
training course participant
from Hungary
Please, browse our website content to find out more about the project and it's goals through our participants' first hand experiences they share here. We have also prepared two online courses accompanied by a resources section, for everyone who would like to learn something about the Middle East or about film, it's specific visual language and the ways it can be used as a tool in figthing for a better world without prejudices, racism and xenophobia that so often arise in the encounters between the migrants and local communities.

Looking for their own Ithaca

One of the most widely debated issues is the refugee and immigrant crisis. It is a subject of concern at international level. As a result, Serbia could not be an exception to the rule. According to the latest statistics, almost 1.000.000 refugees have passed through the country, the previous year.

Their journey starts much earlier, when they are forced to leave their countries, because of the war there. In many cases, mostly, boys between 9 to 15 years old, running away from their families, so not to be a Taliban, as their fathers would gain money from that. As a result, little boys are travelling on their own getting beaten up, tortured or even being imprisoned suspected as terrorists by the police.

Smugglers approach people, promising them a better life within 20 days. From then on, the persons’ lives are literally on the smugglers’ hands. After the Turkey boarders they have to deal with the Bulgarian Police which is really strict and always push them back after they get verbally and physically abused, humiliated and hurt. If they are lucky enough, and pass the Bulgarian Boarders after some attempts, they have to face for another time the violence of the Serbian Police this time. The same happens also in Hungary and Croatia.

Unfortunately, countries think that they can take extremely inhuman measures at the boarders to the people who are already victims. Despite that, smugglers are not the ones that organise the whole transport of people. Behind this business there are some mafia guys, the same people who are dealing with drugs and guns.
At the beginning, when the whole thing started, people were really into refugees, as it was a hot story and there were hundreds and hundreds of people coming over as volunteers trying to help out. After some terrorist and criminal attacks this changed. As a matter of fact, terrorism is a huge business, just like war. Everything is a part of a well-organised plan. Most of the terrorists attack to the cities they have been grown up, so the excuse that terrorists come with the rest of the migrants is falling apart. Especially in EU countries, radicalization begins through mosques in local communities to young isolated people, who may face domestic problems.

As we can see, everything has to do with the perspective, which means that it plays a fundamental role how people thinks deal with such problems. For example, rapes are happening every day in our countries and it is not something extraordinary, even if it is horrific. But if a refugee or an immigrant gets involved, then it is monstrous, completely unacceptable and this very minute he will be expelled. So after all, refugees represent the danger. Moreover, when we come to the level that we are ignoring small explosions in which 2 or 3 people are dying, but we pay attention only when 300 people die, then something is wrong with our point of view.

In Serbia, people are not so positive with refugees, getting to know that some of them will take some money to start their own businesses. This news was just rumours, and even if this was true, only a few would have the status to do it. Despite that, there are asylum/refugee centres that offer them specific services like free medical aid. Also, they may be placed in the asylum centre for free and have all the benefits of the asylum centre, which is food, no cash unfortunately, and the permission to work after a certain time of staying in the country (no less than 8-9 months). Regarding to the young people and children, who have stopped their education, there are a few programmes that are supported by NGOs, like UNICEF and not by the government. For these kids, informal education is equally important as the formal education. Schools cannot be anything as long as they do not speak the language and usually the grade they follow is not according to their age. A good solution would be a well organised system that could help these kids getting into foster families, so to get prepared for the school. The problem is that there is not enough money to support this program and that without a proper integration program, we cannot do much.

As for the grown-ups, at the 17 refugee/asylum centres, they can join in Serbian and English lessons at the basic level of language. The problem is that one day they come, the other they are gone and many of them are not willing or not able to follow the flow of the class.

Taking all of these factors into account, we are convinced that not all the lives are the same. Consequently, should we be so vicious and inhuman, when these people just want to have a normal and decent life?
Article co-written by
Evangelia Vita
art student
training course participant from
Association of Active Youths
of Florina, Greece
Article co-written by

art student
training course participant from
Association of Active Youths
of Florina, Greece

The Spirit of Jean Vigo

Apart from the documentary À propos de Nice that you can watch below, we provide the short text version of the introductory speech presented at the second screening of this film by the very influential, albeit tragically short-lived french film author Jean Vigo.

/ Presentation of À propos de Nice /
Lecture by Jean Vigo at the Vieux-Colombier Theater in Paris
on June 14, 1930, on the occasion of the second screening of the film

You’re right if you don’t think that we’re going to discover America together. I say this to indicate right away the precise import of the words on the scrap of paper you have been given as a promise of more to come.

I’m not concerned today with revealing what social cinema is, no more than I am in strangling it with a formula. Rather, I’m trying to arouse your latent need to more often see good films – filmmakers, please excuse me for the pleonasm – dealing with society and its relationships with individuals and things.

Because, you see, the cinema suffers more from flawed thinking than from a total absence of thought.

At the cinema we treat our minds with a refinement that the Chinese usually reserve for their feet.

On the pretext that the cinema was born yesterday, we speak babytalk, like a daddy who babbles to his darling so that his little babe-in-arms can better understand him.

A camera, after all, is not a pump for creating vacuums.

To aim toward a social cinema would be to consent to work a mine of subjects that reality ceaselessly renews.

It would be to liberate oneself from the two pairs of lips that take 3,000 meters to come together and almost as long to come unstuck.

It would be to avoid the overly artistic subtlety of a pure cinema which contemplates its super-navel from one angle, then from yet another angle, always another angle, a super-angle; that’s technique for technique’s sake.

It would be to dispense with knowing whether the cinema should be silent a priori, or as sonorous as an empty jug, or as 100 percent talking as our war veterans, or in three dimensional relief, in color, with smells, etc.

For, to take another field, why don’t we demand that an author tell us if he used a goose quill or a fountain pen to write his latest novel?

These devices are really no more than fairground trinkets.

Besides, the cinema is governed by the laws of the fairground.

To aim at a social cinema would simply be to agree to say something and to stimulate echoes other than those created by the belches of ladies and gentlemen who come to the cinema to aid their digestion.


To aim at a social cinema is therefore simply to underwrite a cinema that deals with provocative subjects, subjects that cut into flesh.

But I want to talk with you more precisely about a social cinema, one that I am closer to: a social documentary or, more precisely, a documented point of view.

In the realm to be explored, the camera is king or, at least, President of the Republic.

I don’t know if the result will be a work of art, but I am sure that it will be cinematic – cinematic in the sense that no other art form, no other science could take its place.

Anyone making social documentaries must be slim enough to slip through the keyhole of a Romanian lock and be able to catch Prince Carol jumping out of bed in his shirt tails, assuming, that is, that one thinks such a spectacle worthy of interest. The person who makes social documentaries must be a fellow small enough to fit under the chair of a croupier, that great god of the Monte Carlo casino – and believe me, that’s not easy!

A social documentary is distinguished from an ordinary documentary and weekly newsreels by the viewpoint that the author clearly supports in it.

This kind of social documentary demands that one take a position because it dots the i’s.

If it doesn’t interest an artist, at least a man will find it compelling. And that’s worth at least as much.

The camera is aimed at what must be considered a document, which will be treated as a document during the editing.

Obviously, self-conscious acting cannot be tolerated. The subject must be taken unawares by the camera, or else one must surrender all claims to any “documentary” value such a cinema possesses.

And the goal will be attained if one succeeds in revealing the hidden reason behind a gesture, in extracting from a banal person chosen at random his interior beauty or caricature, if one succeeds in revealing the spirit of a collectivity through one of its purely physical manifestations.

À propos de Nice, 1930

We discuss Vigo's approach to the film form and the use of film in delivering socially active ideas in the Enter the Cinema online course. His cooperation with the cinematographer Boris Kaufman is also mentioned during the course, and we recommend that you read a much more detailed and very inspiring essay on this subject, which you can find here.

The essence of cinema: Robert Bresson

Discover the Middle East
through documentary films

If you are interested in exploring the Middle East through documentaries, you can take a look at the following recommended films:

Syria: Land of Friendly People and Hidden Treasure
directed by Wendy Campbell
86 minutes, 2004

This travelogue-documentary reveals the fascinating country of Syria, its splendid ancient treasures and its friendly people.

Iraq: Cradle of Civilization
directed by Michael Wood
52 minutes, 1991

This film about the rise of early civilization in Iraq puts present-day conflict in a much broader context. Touring key landmarks, he walks us through their ancient history and into the rise of Islam. Interestingly, according to Wood, everyday life remained relatively stagnant in the region until the oil industry took hold.

The Kings from Babylon to Baghdad - The History of Iraq
produced by The History Channel
91 minutes, 2004

The Kings from Babylon To Baghdad tells the story of Iraq through the history of its rulers, from Sargon the Great to Saddam Hussein. This feature-length documentary explores the connections and relevance between ancient and modern Iraq and between Iraq and the rest of the planet.

Using dialogue drawn directly from primary sources - original texts of ancient records - it depicts events in dramatic, living reenactments. Lush cinematography filmed on location frames the dramatizations and contemporary reportage. And interviews with the world's leading experts on the historical and current relevance of Iraq complete this authoritative portrait of the men who brought this fabled land glory and despair.

Today, as it has been many times in the past, understanding Iraq is central to the world's well-being. This documentary offers a thorough, thought-provoking view into the politics, personalities, government, geography, culture and religion of this all-important region.

16 Days in Afghanistan
directed by Anwar Hajher
60 minutes, 2007

16 Days in Afghanistan is a 2007 documentary about the journey of Afghan-American Anwar Hajher (director) traveling to his homeland Afghanistan after 25 years to rediscover his country. The film is the first documentary since the fall of Taliban to be shot in those provinces which remain under the heavy influence of the Taliban. It is also the first professionally produced documentary about Afghanistan by a team of Afghan filmmakers and has become a reference film on the subject.

Lost Treasures of Afghanistan
produced by National Geographic
56 minutes, 2006

This film brings together different stories of heroism and bravery in war-torn Afghanistan. Explore the Bamiyan Valley with archaeologist Dr. Tarzi as he digs for a long-forgotten monastery that houses the 1,000 foot Buddha in his ultimate quest to honor the Bamiyan people and their history. Also join Russian archaeologist Victor Sarianidi as he unveils and confirms whether gold treasures found underneath the Presidential palace were indeed the Bactrian Hoard treasure he helped discover and catalog two decades ago. And finally, listen to the different stories of brave Afghani artists and archivists as they recount how they went about protecting and preserving works of art and film archives from certain destruction by the Taliban.

Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage

Story of a small girl who travels around Afghanistan produced by the Society for Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage.

On the new way to the future

As part of an E+ Programe Key action 2, the On The New Way To The Future Project has been carrieed out by partner organisations from Poland, Italy and Spain.

The project aims at creating innovative model and tools of intercultural education (with a maximum of universal potential for use in a many varieties of national and linguistic environments of migrants), addressed to migrants from different countries and backgrounds, bringing them to European values, European social norms, principles of operation democratic state and civil society.

The rapid influx of migrants from many countries to Europe evokes the need for accelerated and effective education in this field. Lack of knowledge about the standards ,principles and rules causes confusion of migrants, inability for correct behavior in a new social environment and breaking the existing social norms, which in turn causes the hostility of the population of the country of residence for newcomers. This situation results in difficulties in social inclusion, in finding employment, causes a danger of exclusion and deep frustration.

Since the ethnic diversity of migrants is very high and many of them don’t know enough language of the country in which they find themselves, or English, the objective of the project is to develop an innovative model of education universal, allowing to reach different groups, irrespective of their nationality and language, and tools operating primarily video and audio and enable quick translation of a particular group of migrants. It is expected to operate forms such as film, comics, games, audio and audiovisual material and the use of ITC.

The following two cartoons have been produced in the course of the project:

Searching for an apartment for rent

The history of immigration life

More detailed informations about the project can be found here.

Tools and materials
about multiculturalism

Interesting educational materials were produced during the Multiculturalism Project which was implemented by Eduexpert sp. z o.o. (Poland), UK Butterflies LTD (UK) and Katolicka Univerzita v Ruzomberku (Slovakia). The main target of this strategic partnership was to develop universal multilingual tools and materials, which directly contribute to increasing the level of awareness of school children in the area of multiculturalism and national identity. Tools and materials are availible on the project website.

The European Commission's
agenda on migration

The plight of thousands of migrants putting their lives in peril to cross the Mediterranean has shocked. It is clear that no EU country can or should be left alone to address huge migratory pressures. The European Commission's agenda on migration sets out a European response, combining internal and external policies, making best use of EU agencies and tools, and involving all actors: EU countries and institutions, international organisations, civil society, local authorities and national partners outside the EU.

A short video and details on The European Commission's agenda on migration can be found here.

New migration in Europe
(DW Documentary)

Flight, immigration, the move from rural to urban areas and other forms of the 'new migration' confront us with great challenges. But internationally acclaimed migration expert Doug Saunders is optimistic. His history of migration in Europe shows that it can bring great opportunities for everyone. We join him on a trip to Istanbul, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. 'Arrival City' is the term migration expert Doug Saunders uses for the title of his book: a place where migrants first settle in search of a better future for their children. To find out how integration works, and why it fails so miserably in some places, Saunders and director Jörg Daniel Hissen visited Istanbul, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. Flight, immigration, the move from rural to urban areas and other forms of the "new Migration" are immense challenges to modern societies.

Cultural differences, language problems and housing are just a few of the hurdles that the newcomers have to contend with in the "arrival cities." These are often parts of towns that make the headlines as problem districts, and the residents are often hostile to outsiders. But Doug Saunders is optimistic. His research on migration in Europe shows that immigration is an opportunity for migrants and native populations alike as long as the migrants are provided with conditions that allow them to play an active role. Civil rights, educational opportunities and social mobility are important factors in successful integration. If the "arrival cities" allow the incomers to set up small businesses and improve their circumstances, at least for the second generation, they often develop into hip neighborhoods and popular residential areas for the middle class. This documentary connects the dots between the personal stories of individual migrants and the town planning and political initiatives that are needed if the arrival regions are to benefit from migration.

EU migration crisis:
the inside story

THis is a documentary on migrant crysis, produced by Council of the EU. On 19 April, one year after the tragic single drowning of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, which marked the beginning of the "migration crisis", we look back on how the crisis unfolded through 2015, and how the EU developed its comprehensive response. This is the "inside story", as told by key witnesses from the Council of the EU and the European Commission. It is an attempt to explain the complexities of one of the biggest crises the EU is experiencing. It covers 9 months of crisis in 2015, and is available in 24 EU languages.

Frontline Doctors:
Winter Migrant Crisis

Winter Migrant Crisis is the documentary of BBC from 2016. Chris and Xand van Tulleken - doctors, part-time aid workers and twin brothers - want to see for themselves what conditions are like for migrants fleeing through Europe at the height of winter. They travel to Lesbos in Greece, through the Balkans and on to Berlin and Calais to understand what's being done on a medical and humanitarian level in response to the refugee crisis. Spending time with medics, charities and volunteers in camps and clinics, at border crossings and transit points, they find out what the situation is like on the ground and, wherever possible, lend a hand in the biggest migration crisis of our times.

Discover the Middle East


Choueiri, Youssef M.
A Companion to the History
of the Middle East
Blackwell Publishing, 2005
Rogan, Eugene
The Arabs – A History
Basic Books, 2012
Hourani, Albert
A History of the Arab Peoples
Faber & Faber 2013
Chejne, Anwar
The Arabic Language
Its Role in History
University of Minnesota Press 1969

Allen, Roger
An Introduction to
Arabic Literature
Cambridge University Press 2003
Kuiper, Kathleen, ed.
Islamic Art, Literature, and
Culture - Its Role in History
Britannica Educational Publishing 2010
Starkey, Paul
Modern Arabic literature
Edinburgh University Press 2006

Shafik, Viola
Arab cinema:
history and cultural identity
American University in Cairo Press 1998
Nydell, Margare
Understanding Arabs:
A Contemporary Guide
to Arab Society
Intercultural Press 2012
Mellor, N, Rinnawi, K, Dajani, N.
Arab Media: Globalization
and Emerging Media Industries
Polity Press 2011
Enter the cinema
In this section you can find a list of recommended books and films that are also mentioned or reffered to in our online course. It should help following the course and further development of interest on the selected subjects easier. At the end of the section, you will find some video clips of interest we share with you here.

The books range from those dealing with film language, theory and practice, visual perception and expression in general, as well as anthropological, ethnological and sociological sobjects related to the themes discussed in the training course.

The sellection of films is based upon their importance in developing the film language or subjects related to the focal points of the Frames of Understanding project. We hope you find our recommendations engaging and motivating.


by Neil Landau, Matthew Frederick
101 Things I Learned
in Film School
Grand Central Publishing 2010
Michael Rabiger
Directing the Documentary
Focal Press 2015
Sergei Eisenstein
Film Form:
Essays in Film Theory
Harcourt 1969
Sergei Eisenstein
The Film Sense
Harcourt Braće Jovanović 1969
Andre Bazin
What is Cinema
volume 1 and 2
University of California Press 2004
Andrey Tarkovsky
Sculpting in Time
University of Texass Press, 1989
Krzysztof Kieslowski
Kieslowski on Kieslowski
Faber & Faber 1995
edited by Paul Hockings
Principles of
Visual Anthropology
De Gruyter Mouton 2003
Timothy Corrigan
The Essay Film
From Montaigne, After Marker
Oxford University Press 2010
Martine Joly
et son interprétation
Armand Colin 2005
edited by Scott MacKenzie
Film Manifestos
and Global Cinema Cultures
A Critical Anthology
University of California Press 2014
Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White
The Film Experience:
An Introduction
Bedford/St. Martin's 2014

Michelangelo Antonioni
111 minutes, UK 1969
Jean Vigo
À Propos de Nice
25 minutes, France, 1930
Godfrey Reggio
86 minutes, USA, 1982
Chris Marker
La Jetée
28 minutes, France 1962
Sergei Parajanov
The Color of Pomegranates
/Sayat Nova/
78 minutes, USSR 1969
The course consists of video lessons introducing the most important periods and processes of the Middle Eastern civilisation. Culture and art, history and geography, religion and customs as well as the most important political, social and economic characteristics of the region are the subjects of the course. Exploring the main reasons of the current migrant crisis is also be part of the course.
online course
Bratislav Kostić
film, video and multimedia producer
Petroglyph Studio, Belgrade
The course consists of five segments. Through examples, we search for answers to questions such as: what is cinema and what makes it's expressive tools unique, how did the cinematic language evolve through the turbulent first half of the XX century, how does it resonate the society and the ideas it emanates from, and how does it continuously develop from various mutual influences coming from different cultures around the world. More specifically, we throw some light on certain segments of the Middle Eastern cinema we find important or intriguing for further exploring. According to the main ideas of the project, we also mention different views on racism and xenophobia we can find in examples from films throughout it's history and take a look at the examples of different contexts from which the theme of migrants is being treated and how they changed through time. Finally, we take a short look at the fast paced development of hybrid visual media, the ways we can critically absorb the new expressive and social potentials they bring and use them to produce content conveying our own ideas.
About the Project
Large influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East is one of the greatest challenges Europe is facing in the XXI century. The so called European migrant crisis is characterized by insufficient understanding towards migrants and refugees and even an increase of racism and xenophobia in European countries.

This Project is based on a belief that getting to know "the other" (foreigner) is the best way to overcome prejudices, establish intercultural dialogue and build mutual understanding and that this is most effectively achieved through culture and art, namely film as a strong educational, empathy and activism instrument.