Music the Medium, Migration the Message as GMFF closes in Vienna

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The magical muses of music and cinema were celebrated in Vienna, city of music and migration, as the Global Migration Film Festival ended on International Migrants Day.

A screening of the captivating “All People’s Orquestra” took place in the United Nations Office in Vienna, telling the story of a group of refugees and migrants from the furthest corners of the world who came together to make sweet music in Brazil.

“The theme that we are celebrating this year is Social Cohesion, and we salute the directors, writer, actors and technicians who, since the earliest days of the silver screen, have used the iconic power of film to bring people together, literally and figuratively”, said IOM’s Regional Director Argentina Szabados.

She reminded the audience that many of the earliest film-makers were immigrants themselves, and their movies, in the early 20th century, depicted their world: a world on the move. “They brought the dramatic, poignant and comic stories of migrants to diverse audiences, through images that provoked empathy amongst people of every culture.”

After the screening, a panel discussion heard from Kathrin Zirn, from Open Piano for Refugees, and one of the initiatives brightest stars, Hani Alneab, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee. By leaving pianos in open spaces, Open Piano For Refugees have demonstrated that magic can happen, and cultural borders disappear when music is used as a common language, said Ms Zirn.

Hani won the hearts of the audience at the event at Vienna’s UN HQ when he revealed that he learned to play piano through YouTube tutorials, and that he developed the habit of playing all night and sleeping during the day, because the night-time was the only time he could find a quiet room at his crowded refugee accommodation in Austria.

IOM’s senior regional media and communications officer Joe Lowry explained the significance of IOM’s Migrants Day message of “#WeTogether”, saying that human society can only thrive when we live, learn, work and grow together.

In closing, Ms Szabados thanked Martin Nesirky, United Nations Information Services Director for hosting a third major event on behalf of IOM, and, in her last public engagement with IOM before her retirement, expressed her appreciation to all who have helped her to have a memorable and successful career.