Tromsø Film Club in Norway, has applied for financial support from the municipality in order to give asylum seekers and refugees in Tromsø free membership. But is it a PR stunt, ignorance or a scam?
Film club leader Odd Arild Knutsen feels strongly that everyone should contribute a little to help with integration. Now they hope to get NOK 5,000 from Tromsø municipality to hand out free memberships to the film club to refugees.
As a member, all screenings by the film club are for free, and it is about between six and nine films a month that members can go to the cinema to watch.
- The idea is simply that we would help with something. Since we are into film, that's what we can do. Film is a medium that everyone knows, wherever they come from. We show a wide range of new and old films and various genres, so we hope that this is an offer that will be well received, says Knutsen.
They will not change the film program to customize the screenings for refugees, but the goal is to have English subtitles on the films they show.
- We will not directly adapt our program or run any kind of special screenings. It is important that they get the same offer as everyone else in this context, says Knutsen and continues:
- Today we have around 300 members and many are international students. We are already working hard to have English subtitles on the films we show whether we are talking about Norwegian or foreign films.
Knutsen says to the local newspaper iTromsø, that he feels strongly that not "only" sports clubs should contribute with offers for refugees and asylum seekers, and hope more will follow their example.
- Local sports teams are very skilled to make offers for asylum seekers, but we can all contribute with something. It can not be just one player who does something for integration, and not everybody is interested in sports. We have a great cultural environment here in town, so there are probably many opportunities here if people are willing, says Knutsen.
The film club has not been granted the application for the time being, but says it has received positive feedback for the initiative.
Although Knutsen probably means well and it may look like a swell idea, it really sounds like a scam to get money to the club, or they must be very ignorant. Or it's just a PR stunt. One of the main barriers for most refugees to get a job or integrate would be the language. The main reason why the film club only has 300 members, is because the films, which of many are in black and white, are unknown films and of "special interest" to the members, not what most people flock to the theatres to watch. Simply adding English subtitles to these films to recruit asylum seeking members and film viewers will not work, considering asylum seekers for the most part speak Arabic, or another non-English, non-Norwegian language, and many cannot even read at all, one of the main reasons for the lack of integration. It goes without saying that this project will not instantly or ever become an enormous super hit among refugees.
- 5.000 is not much, but a lot of money for a film club with limited funding. The sum covers memberships and the administrative costs associated with it, so we cross our fingers and hope they will help, says Knutsen.
There is of course a potential for all kinds of clubs to seek financial support and receive taxpayer funding to "integrate" refugees if this goes through, so there could soon come a storm of applications.
5,000 here and 5,000 there. Money for nothing and you will be paying for it, Mr. hardworking Tromsø fisherman. In the name of politically correctness.
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