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RFC, UNESCO host World Press Freedom Day film screenings at Rainbow Theatre

By Tom Grant - May 14,2022 - Last updated at May 14,2022

Speakers during a panel session after a film screening in celebration of World Press Freedom Day at the Rainbow Theatre in Jabal Amman on Tuesday (Photo by Tom Grant)

AMMAN — In celebration of World Press Freedom Day, the Royal Film Commission Jordan (RFC) in partnership with UNESCO hosted film screenings over three consecutive evenings at the Rainbow Theatre in Jabal Amman last week.

Under the banner “Journalism Under Siege”, the RFC chose three films that “highlighted the work of journalists across the world”, according to their official Facebook page. 

Day one, hosted on Tuesday, May 10, saw the screening of the Hindi-language film “Writing with Fire”, which follows a group of Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh, India, in their transition to digital journalism, after 14 years as a paper only publication. 

In her opening remarks, UNESCO Representative to Jordan Min Jeong Kim thanked the Commission for their involvement in the screenings before focussing on the reasons World Press Freedom Day is celebrated, saying that “it is a reminder to governments to respect their press freedom” and a “day to reflect on the issues of freedom and ethics”.

The representative quoted statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists, stating that 2,146 journalists have been killed at work over the last 30 years, with 11 journalists alone being killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion earlier this year. 

She commented on “honouring journalists out there on the frontline of conflicts” as well as those doing investigative journalism to human rights issues. 

“Journalism is the essence of democracy,” said Chief Reporter Meera in the documentary film, which was followed by a panel discussion at the Rainbow Theatre made up of Jordanian writer and director Asma Bseiso, journalist and human rights defender Nadine Nimri and Jordan’s correspondent for Reporters Without Borders Mohammed Shamma. 

The discussion is centred around the power of documentaries, the role of women in journalism and newsrooms, and the effect of digital media journalism on opportunities in the industry.

The following evening saw the screening of the French-language film “Checks and Balances”, which focused on one of Algeria’s most famous newspapers post the country’s “Black Decade” of the 1990s, as they await the greatest symbol of their freedom: The completion of their new offices.

The screening was preceded by a one-minute silence in remembrance of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday while reporting on an Israeli occupation raid.

The final film screening, hosted on Thursday, was the English-language film “The Social Dilemma”, which features interviews with those who have worked for some of the biggest social networking companies in the world. 

The film hears their opinions on not only the impact the applications have on people’s lives, but also the way people’s lives are tracked by them.

Student Khaira, from the UK, attended the film screenings to “learn more about the presentation of journalism on an international platform”. 

She continued by saying that by “attending the event enlightened my views on the importance of journalism, and ‘Checks and Balances’ perfectly embodied the political situation and strain on journalists”.

She also noted that the discussion after the screening, which was open to all audience members, opened her eyes to the freedom of journalism and she enjoyed hearing other peoples “views and opinions on the ideas in the film”.

World Press Freedom Day, hosted internationally on Tuesday May 3, “acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics”, according to the UNESCO website.

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