ReFOCUS Media Labs for Refugees: "Nothing about us without us"

ReFOCUS Media Labs is creating a global network of media labs to equip asylum seekers and recognized refugees with modern media creation skills.

Five persons in a room are making a movie. Two are sitting at a table in a shabby and cold room and the others are filming them.

Lesvos Lab teaching artists: Nazanin Foroghi & Yaser Akbari produce a music video for an Afghan rapper, Mo Hossaini. The video, “Interview,” metaphorically depicts the asylum claim process refugees in Greece have to go through © ReFocus Media Labs

Project description

ReFOCUS Media Labs

ReFOCUS Media Labs is creating a global network of media labs to equip asylum seekers and recognized refugees with modern media creation skills. The Labs provide a platform for students to showcase original work, share their stories, and pursue professional careers. They can receive training in photography, audio and video production, graphic design, media editing, and computer skills. Currently ReFoucs runs Labs in Lesvos, Athens, and Cracow. ReFocus produces feature-length media content, collaborates with international media on breaking news, and regularly engages in school communities with interactive events and media art installations. The Allianz Foundation supports this project. More information.

“Tens of thousands of teenage and young adult asylum seekers continue to flee war, persecution, or extreme poverty. Crucial years of education are lost while waiting for asylum, and in turn dreams and aspirations are compromised. We fight to change this reality by training students.”
Sonia Nandzik and Douglas Herman, ReFOCUS Media Labs

Insights into the work of ReFOCUS Media Labs

All pictures © ReFOCUS Media Labs

Yaser Akbari instructs students how to use a Gimbal. They are standing around him at a table, while he is explaining.

Lesvos, Greece

When students become teachers: Yaser Akbari – the Lesvos Lab lead teacher instructs students in the professional use of gimbals. Yaser is an alumnus of the ReFOCUS program. His outstanding skills have allowed him to secure a teaching position and produce his own videos and a movie. 

A group of women and girls gathered and are looking at a camera to see pictures one of them made. They are laughing.

Cracow, Poland

Women and girls dominate the ReFOCUS Media Lab project in Cracow, Poland. The Lab is dedicated to Ukrainian refugees forced to flee their country after Russian aggression.

Two women are outside on Lesvos and are filming in the landscape.

Lesvos, Greece

Female students from the Lesvos Lab produce their own short video for International Women’s Day in response to the atrocities committed against women in war zones across the world.

A group of students is working in a tiny studio on the editing of a movie.

Athens & Lesvos, Greece

Students and teaching artists from the Athens and Lesvos Labs together produced “Dead End” . This movie by Said Ahmadzia Ebrahim, produced by ReFOCUS, was featured immediately after release at the Ghan Film Festival in Australia.

Five persons in a room are making a movie. Two are sitting at a table in a shabby and cold room and the others are filming them.

Lesvos, Greece

Lesvos Lab teaching artists: Nazanin Foroghi and Yaser Akbari produce a music video for an Afghan rapper, Mo Hossaini. The video, titled “Interview,” metaphorically depicts the process refugees in Greece have to go through to prove their claim for asylum.

Many cameras are shown

Cracow, Poland

Students in the Cracow Lab learn professional filmmaking. The Lab offers classes in photography, storytelling, filmmaking, and graphic design. All classes are taught by Ukrainians and provide formal education to help Ukrainians get access to the Polish labor market.

A person is showing three others something on a laptop. The other three are looking very focussed.

Athens, Greece

In the Athens Lab the latest teaching artist, Abbas Heidari, teaches Afghan and Iranian students green screen shooting and editing techniques. In a series of workshops students learn professional media skills and build their artistic portfolio.

A very crowded room. People are looking to a big screen, where a movie is shown.

Lesvos, Greece

In the Parea community center for refugees on Lesvos, ReFOCUS screens its first feature documentary, “Even After Death ”. The film was shot in 2019, but the subject of deadly sea crossings is still very relevant in the Mediterranean area. 

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Four women are sitting in a park on a blanket and are watching and learning while one of them is showing them how to spin.

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