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How To Use Mobile Cinema As An Awareness-Raising Tool: The CinemArena Project
Students from Malick Sy school in Thiès competing in the CinemArena quiz / IOM – Marianne Anna DIOH

In our previous article, we learned what mobile cinema is and why IOM uses it as an outreach tool during activities in the field. In this article, we will explain how to prepare video screening in the field, using the CinemArena project as an example.

The CinemArena Project

Funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, CinemArena is a mobile cinema project implemented by IOM in West Africa.

It is a mobile cinema featuring a series of outdoor events, both in rural and urban areas, where films, documentaries and testimonies are screened. The main objective of this project is to inform and educate about social issues in the most remote areas. This is carried out in different and complementary ways:

In order to carry out this type of awareness-raising event, it is useful to follow a step-by-step process, as in the case of the CinemArena project.

The Preparation Step

1. Coordination with central and local authorities, organization of visits to identify screening sites and recruitment of partners

The success of a screening in the field requires informing the authorities in advance and involving them in the planning of the events, identifying the appropriate locations for the implementation of the activities and recruiting a local partner who will be in charge of running the activities.

For the event to be a success, inform and invite the local authorities in advance to request for their support. To do this, you can send a letter to the governor of the region where the screening will take place explaining the project and also specifying the content and purposes of the planned activities. It is encouraged to visit them in the weeks leading up to the events to motivate them to take part. In rural areas, it is also important to consider the traditional authorities who are closer to the population as they can help mobilize large groups to participate in the events.

Location visits are essential and must be organized in advance through visits in the field that make easier not only the choice of each projection space but also the organization of meetings with the authorities and potential local partners.

You will not be able to manage all the tasks as you will need specific logistical support. The partner will have to:

  • Find a suitable projection space in collaboration with the local authorities; it should be spacious, public and central;
  • Provide all security measures for the staff involved and for the public/participants. The team should have a first aid kit and telephones and/or GPS available, including security guards and escorts in potentially risky areas;
  • To provide logistical support for the open-air screening by providing IOM with screening equipment including giant screen, podium, sound system, light and generator, microphone and any other accessories for open-air screenings, rental of chairs, barriers, mats and tents as well as the distribution of sanitary kits to participants;
  • Provide transport for the equipment and people to the location hosting the event, if necessary;
  • Involve local youth, migrant and women’s associations;
  • Invite local partners such as local companies, training schools, local craftsmen, women’s associations, entrepreneurs, etc….. These partners will be the ones to inform about the different alternatives in the locality.

As recommended in this article on the importance of local sourcing, give priority to facilities in your locality with experience in organizing field screenings. Do not hesitate to carry out a visit to the venue with the provider to assess the feasibility and any problems that should be anticipated.

2. The involvment of facilitators and artists

Another aspect to consider in this preparation process is the involvement of volunteers or facilitators in the activity. It is preferable that the volunteers or facilitators recruited are local residents and are trained or used to attend this type of event. Volunteers are connected to their communities. They will support you from start to finish, not only mobilizing the population but also facilitating most of the activities in local languages.

The field projection should be combined with fun activities (dance and theatre shows, musical performances, games, etc.) to attract the spectators and catch their attention. When choosing performers, it is suggested that you engage the locals to give your message a greater impact.

3. Film selection

To give impact to your message, prioritize local productions that reflects the realities of the area, and choose short films to catch the audience’s attention as much as possible. We recommend keeping the screenings short and allowing more time for discussion and exchange, as this will reinforce your message. The content is also an important aspect to consider, it should be easy to understand and adapted to all ages, particularly the youngest.

4. Promotion of the activity

Use all the communication channels available to you to promote your activity (press conference, broadcasting of spots on local radio and television stations, publications on social media, etc.).

Day Of The Activity

Activities should ideally be done at the end of the day when community members are available and can attend. Hours should be agreed with the local authorities to avoid disruption as there are some areas that do not allow night-time events.

Installation of the screening van in Bayakh, Thiès / IOM – Marianne Anna DIOH

Once you have selected the location and set up a program of activities in advance, plan with the local service provider to start installing the projection equipment. This includes:

  • A mobile van equipped with projection equipment with a giant screen;
  • A podium, chairs, tents, mats and barriers;
  • Sound and light equipment;
  • A generator.

The installation must be done 3 hours before the beginning of the activity and thus be immediately followed by a musical animation to attract the crowd.

SB-AGROIN, a local partner of the CinemArena caravan specialising in the production of local products in Thiès / IOM – Marianne Anna DIOH

Tents are also installed nearby to allow local partners such as training schools, local manufacturing companies, public employment promotion offices or local craftsmen to set up stands. Participants will be able to go there to find out about local opportunities.

Performance of traditional singers in Foundioune, Fatick / IOM – Lygali Grâce Marvel Fleurdin DISU

To encourage people to take part in activities, start the event with cultural activities specific to the locality you are visiting (parade of traditional dress, traditional songs, dance competitions for children with goodies as prizes).

Afterwards, a welcome speech may be delivered  by the Governor, the Mayor, the Prefect, the Village/District Chief, the community relays, a representative of a youth or migrant association, and an IOM staff member who explains the project and its objectives. This will be followed by the presentation of the program and the different speakers who will be taking the floor.

As part of your activities, you can organize a theatre piece on the theme of migration in local languages to be performed by young people from the locality. The performance will be followed by a screening of a series of short awareness-raising videos, if you cannot find videos in local languages, consider dubbing the content into the local language, or select those with meaningful and understandable images that will reach many people.

The facilitator initiates discussions at the end of the screenings to allow participants to comment or debate on what they have watched. One aspect that should not be forgotten is the testimony of the returnees, which allows attendees to really appreciate what these people have endured and to better facilitate their reintegration into the community, as well as giving credibility to your message. You can conclude in a fun way by inviting local artists for performances.

As mentioned earlier, getting the local authorities involved can ensure the sustainability of the project as they can use this model to organize such activities on their own.

After The Activity

Remember to organize an evaluation meeting with all the participants (service provider, volunteers, staff, authorities) to discuss the difficulties experienced and the various solutions that can be proposed for the future organization of similar events.


  • As the activity starts at the end of the day, a school tour can be organized to a local school to raise awareness and organize different activities with the kids (short videos, discussions, quizzes…)
  • Make sure you contact the local press to cover the event activities and give good visibility to the awareness-raising message you wish to spread.
  • To increase the impact of your activity, it is encouraged to create synergies with other IOM projects.
  • Consider assigning someone the responsibility of taking high quality photos and videos that can be used for your communication or reports
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