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Torre Pacheco, Spain

Thinking Big: A Film Festival Highlights Small Town Diversity

Ayuntamiento de Torre Pacheco

January 27, 2013

Combining culture and education to promote intercultural dialogue

Karima arrives at her first day at a secondary school. She speaks no Spanish. Will she ever make any friends?

Karima Spanish chronicles the challenges facing an immigrant teenager to learn a new language, fit in with her classmates (or not) and make friends – in under six minutes. The student-made short film is part of the Andoenredando project, one in a series of initiatives undertaken by the municipality of Torre Pacheco, Spain, to promote social integration, combat discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for all, including newcomers.

Torre Pacheco is a small town with big ambitions. In June 2012, it held its fourth annual National Short Film Festival for Diversity (Andoenredando: festival para la Diversidad). The week-long festival receives entries from all across Spain which are judged by award-winning filmmakers in categories that range from Best Short Fiction Film to the Youth Jury Award. The films focus on social justice and intercultural dialogue, mirroring the priorities of the municipality.

A broad canvas

Located in southeastern Spain, Torre Pacheco has a population of 30,000; over 25 % of residents have a migrant background (well above the national average of 16 %). In 2008, the municipality began to roll out a series of projects designed to respond to the significant demographic change in its population. Despite world-wide economic pressures, it chose to increase resources to migrant issues in order to provide better services to newcomers and build bridges between communities.

The larger public service program for the “Reception and Integration of Migrant Individuals and Families” embodies the municipality’s intercultural approach, a major priority of the city. It includes direct services to immigrants in the areas of housing, social services, education, and healthcare. Administered through Torre Pacheco’s Municipal Institute of Services for Social Action (IMSAS), program staff includes over 30 social workers, mediators, psychologists, lawyers, educations and administrative officers who are available to work with area residents; an additional six social mediators are available as needed. Funding comes from the Ministry of Labour and Immigration and the European Integration Fund.

Untangling diversity

Andoenredando is the social participation and raising awareness component of the Torre Pacheco plan. Its title is a play on words suggesting the process of “untangling;” its focus is intercultural dialogue. Its dedicated website showcases the wide range of programming available to encourage  social integration and community engagement among young people from different backgrounds through innovative uses of new media – as demonstrated in the short film, Karima Spanish.

Beyond the film festival and student-made films, programming includes classroom workshops, online tutorials, television interviews, social networks and creative cartoons. Elementary schoolchildren learn stop-motion animation (where a series of photographs capture the incremental movements of 3-D objects) to create a short films on cultural diversity, which are screened online and featured among the over 200 short films screened annually in the film festival (part of the main Andoenredando website).

Success

Since its inception in 2008, thousands of young people have participated in Andoenredando activities and events –at school, in city neighbourhoods and at home via the internet and special television programming. Almost 800 students have participated in multi-media workshops “aimed at raising awareness and prevention and fight against ethnic discrimination.”

Torre Pacheco’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.  In 2010, the Spanish Observatory for Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) recognized Torre Pacheco for its social participation work in “tackling social integration, raising awareness, and intercultural conviviality.”

Torre Pacheco continues to achieve remarkable outcomes across a wide platform of activities. In 2011, over 2,300 immigrants used the housing services (either for counseling, information or mediation) while  200 more were provided with accommodation. Another 1,300 newcomers successfully accessed services at the local health centre. While students participated in intercultural activities at local schools, community outreach ensured that the parents and families of some 650 immigrant students also received information and counseling.

Making it Work for You:

  • Hosting a festival is a great way to bring community together around new ideas and introduce locals to a larger network of artists and industry professionals.
  • Encourage youth engagement by providing opportunities for students to showcase their own projects within the festival program.
  • Tell your story! Make a special effort to promote locally-created work through media, on project and partner websites and provide information on how everyone can participate.


Karima Spanish


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