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Text and photo: Sabina Badžová
This year, the festival moved from Žižkov to the very centre of Prague – the newly opened Kampus Hybernská. That may be one of the reasons for the high attendance on both the days of RefuFest, 8th and 9th June. There was a lot to see for children and schools. The charitable theatre Krutý krtek (Cruel Mole) prepared Roma Fairy Tales in the form of a puppet show. There were also juggling and drumming workshops which attracted children as well as their parents.
Children and adults could come to screenings of a whole range of films and documentaries. The Women Next Door documentary comprised of stories of female immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina was a great success. The films were accompanied by debates with various guests. Some of them were foreigners who live in the Czech Republic and help others by volunteering.
Every year, the InBaze’s production team likes to come up with something new. This time, the programme was full of workshops and creative activities. Some of them were open as early as in April and May. Exhibitions and workshops represented one of the main parts of the festival and they were very diverse. The exhibitions included: Body – Voice – Language – photos of the impressions from a drama workshop; Do you see what I see? – photos capturing children forced to leave their homes; Legal Alien in Prague – an exhibition by a Hungarian photographer who depicts migration in the Czech Republic in a hundred of portrait photos; and the Prague from the Foreigners’ Perspective exhibition.
The last mentioned exhibition was interconnected with the Reclaiming/reframing project. Its source was a workshop for women where the participants learned to work with various visual media – photography, collage, and video. The workshop was led by Beht Lazroe, a photographer, community activist and experienced teacher, together with Masa Hilcisin, a film teacher. The results of the workshops were publicly presented as a part of RefuFest. There was also an exhibition of photoessays called (IN)visible Stories – these pieces were created thanks to a Personal Portrait and Photo Storytelling workshop organised by InBaze, in which the participants captured their personal stories about migration, identity, childhood, memories, home, activism, life in a different country, and more. Each of the photoessays was a personal and courageous step towards the expression and enhancement of the author’s identity.
Of course, there was also music at the festival. The visitors could come to dance workshops and learn traditional Armenian dance, Belarusian dance, as well as Ghetto Zouk. The interactive performance of the Anklung Praha group included playing the anklung, which is a bamboo instrument, singing, and an Indonesian dance. Anklung was listed by UNESCO in 2010 and since the pre-Hinduist era, it has been used by the Baduy tribe in the northwest Java to accompany ritual dance and for social purposes.
Scott Lee Hansen made the audience laugh with his stand-up performance about a comical journey through the strange Czech Republic and was followed by the international Blood, Love and Rhetoric group.
Altogether, the festival presented the culture of almost thirty countries. As usual, there were stands with refreshments and various products. “This year was a pleasant surprise, the atmosphere was great. There were more people than we had expected, which makes our whole team very happy,” said the project manager Ekaterina Kokkalou. Ekaterina who herself comes from Russia coordinated a twenty-member organisation team mostly consisting of volunteers.