More than 65 films from 30 countries; an extensive programme of industry and community events; and five days of film, art, and cultural activities took the centre stage, as the inaugural edition of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, was held on November 26–30, 2013.
The Festival also featured a two-day Industry Forum that discussed the importance and influences of media and the impact it has on younger audiences. ‘Our Children First!’ forum aimed at shedding light on every facet of media through a hands-on approach, highlighting the spoken word, rhythm, song, poetry, and technology, in sessions led by experts from the regional and international children and youth media industry to discuss issues related to the creation of original content for the young. Representatives of AuroMedia, a unit of Sri Aurobindo Society, were invited to Ajyal Youth Film Festival 2013 to take part in the Industry Forum as panellists and speakers. Sharing experiences of high-quality media productions, projects and workshops was the aim of the this Forum, panelled by the world's top experts in children and youth media, which was headed by the Firdoze Bulbulia—president of International Centre of Films for Children and Young People (CIFEJ), chairperson of Children Broadcasting Foundation of Africa, founder-director of ABC (Africa's best channel) and chairperson of the 5th World Summit on Children and Media held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2007.
In the discussion titled ‘Stop the Motion, I Need to Get On’, Laura Di Nitto and Andreas Camerini introduced themselves and also the role of AuroMedia team engaged in media education projects. In another highlight of the event, the song 'Song for the World' was performed by a group of enthusiastic and talented young people with Andreas’ support at the opening ceremony of the Forum.
The AuroMedia Team believes that children and young people should be inspired in understanding media and its world beyond the surface. They should be enabled to acquire tools for decoding the media contents and messages. Moreover, they should become able to express themselves through the channels of the same media in order to become proactive in the society, capable of speaking up and conveying their own values and ideas.
Ajyal Youth Film Festival was a great opportunity to reconnect with the enormous global family of children and youth media experts from Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Zanzibar, Kenya, Sweden, Poland, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Nigeria, USA, UK and many more countries, and various networks were formed to enhance combined experiences, projects and work. The contribution of every single participant was extremely valuable, and Ajyal took one important step in this highly neglected field of children and youth media, research and production network that needs to be encouraged to share, help, play, develop and always put ‘our children first!’, as they are the future of this world.