Lahav – Teens Making Professional Movies

In discussions with Peretz, the Director of the Ramat Eliyahu Matnas (Community Center), the challenge of at-risk teens who are on the streets and involved in dangerous, anti-social activities was raised. Of the 750 teens, there are 200 in this group. Three strategies were developed with three different partners that were so appealing that they would draw the teens in. Lahav is the first of the three.

Itai, the dynamic director of Lahav, has created a year-long program of meetings, involving theater games and improvisations about the teens’ dreams and family lives. Real bonds and new friendships were created among them.

The first film, a 17 minute movie, involved 17 local teens: 16 Ethiopians (6 boys and 11 girls) and 1 Russian. They came from the community center, the schools and the streets. Many faced serious personal challenges: shyness, lack of self-confidence, ADHD, dyslexia and even one on probation under police supervision. This is our target population.

The goal is to increase the self-confidence and personal growth of the youth. At first, several refused to speak or engage in theater games, but by the end, everyone wanted to be on camera. The filming took place over two days. The teens came on time and cooperated fully with the professional crew.

The teens’ second movie

It was shown at a large theater in Tel Aviv and then on national television, along with five other Lahav teen films. It was also seen throughout the region, including schools without any Ethiopian students, since it dealt with common parent-child situations.

Everyone was transformed by the process; the film is funny and well-done. Its theme is the way they see their parents: “they may behave strangely, but we love them.”

One member of the group, Dagu, tells us it has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, involving much more work than he expected. He was given the part of a “bad boy” – quite different from the good boy he really is. He learned a lot about himself, and he may no longer be quite so shy. Clearly, the students’ self-esteem and confidence have improved greatly as has the way their parents and families treat them. These teens are already becoming active in the community center leadership programs.

The second film was a success, too. Its theme is the relationship between Ethiopian teen-age girls and boys, and how the girls compete with each other and often blame each other for the infidelity of the boys.