As coronavirus hit Europe in March 2020, the 150 participants of the GAiN Europe conference scheduled for Romania, 24-28 April were understandably disappointed that their annual networking opportunity was cancelled. That cancellation included the launch of the much anticipated ‘Uncertainty’ initiative, a series of films, documentaries, video clips and a book that aimed to explore hope in context of our uncertain lives.
“In April the focus on the world was on Coronavirus – and a series on any other issue would have just been lost in the noise,” stated Corrado Cozzi, Communication director for the Inter-European Division. In addition, studios were so busy and focused on developing online services and resources that there was little time available for completing ‘Uncertainty’, or for translating and subtitling the finished product.
Attention turned to the pandemic, bringing hope with an immediate social media campaign, #dearcoronavirus, while plans for an online alternative were discarded due to the generally very hands-on and interactive nature of the event.
However, more recently the organizing team reconsidered it, mainly thanks to the overwhelming advent of Zoom. “It’s not easy to rethink virtually a meeting that rests its potential on interpersonal exchanges during breaks and off-program,” states Klaus Popa, head of Hope Media Europe and part of the GAiN Europe leadership team. However, that team worked hard to develop an attractive program that would not just engage with participants, but would help develop network projects that will benefit all GAiN members during the coming year.
“As communicators we have all been working hard facing the challenges of sharing hope during the Coronavirus pandemic,” states Cozzi, “but we needed to take some time to be together, share the latest developments, and look to the future.”
All that happened on Saturday evening, 30 May. In just under two hours, some 100 participants joined in worship with fellow-communicator and serious COVID-19 sufferer, Pedro Torres, gained insights into a variety of network projects and welcomed the launch of ‘Uncertainty’ starting on Friday, 5 June.
[See more of Pedro’s story here: How My COVID-19 Experience Changed Me]
As COVID-19 very slowly retreats people’s attention is moving to the future – and that future is very uncertain! “We could never have imagined, even one year ago, that the network would have chosen such a relevant theme for today,” states Victor Hulbert, Communication and Media director for the Trans-European Division. “What is our new future going to look like? Physically, emotionally, spiritually? We have many questions but not so many answers. By telling real-life stories, this series helps provide answers and share hope.”
The zoom chat buzzed into life as participants heard introductions to the three films, five documentaries, and twenty video clips that will now run through the summer until the book launch in the autumn.
“Congratulations, production team! Very much looking forward to seeing the complete film,” wrote Costin Jordache from Adventist Health. Libna Stevens added, “Love these shots and stories they represent. Wow!”
“Really nice to see the development from project to project in terms of visual Storytelling,” wrote Manuel Wildemann. “We are amazed for this awesome contribution.”
“So happy to see the way we have been able to develop our ability to collaborate,” added Tor Tjeransen, Communication director for the Norwegian Union. He also offered another network project filmed in Jordan and Egypt in partnership with the Trans-European Division. The aim is to release this in the autumn. Other projects were highlighted from Germany, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine. “So happy to see the way we have been able to develop our ability to work together,” Tjeransen said.
“I love that we are all adapting to be relevant to the current situation! I feel so blessed just to be a part of this group! And I know you all have stories to tell!” commented Hulbert.
This was a first visit to a GAiN Europe meeting for Joy Faigmani-Pontanar. Working in Ireland she wrote that she “praised the Lord and thanks all for sharing their gifts… I can’t wait to share your work.”
More ideas will come – part of the core reason for GAiN Europe meetings. Even while hearing about a variety of reports and projects Hulbert challenged, “it would be great to hear more ideas for future projects from all GAiN participants!
He was not disappointed. Options for the future included an animation project for children. Lizbeth Elejalde suggested that “artists and animators from around the world can give them life through mini stories and even musical video clips!”
Caleb Quispe noted that “most material is Christian minded and is fantastic, yet I believe we need to explore and come with material for the Muslim world.”
All participants agreed that GAiN Europe should continue with the uncertainty theme, producing more stories, clips and written materials that can enhance our mission of hope over the next year.
As for the immediate release, Adrián Duré, lead producer for the video materials, confirmed that all ‘Uncertainty’ audio-visual materials will be available to media centres in the next few days to allow for translation. This will include the ‘Uncertainty’ movie from Brazil; a documentary series sharing ten real-life stories; a documentary about students, graduates and their uncertain futures; 20 social media spots; and a short film based on the German ‘Encounters’ movie. These will be available with the original files and ‘clean’ versions for sub-titling in various languages.
Releasing this Friday
The ‘Uncertainty’ movie will be released this Friday across social media and on ARtv in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Watch all the trailers, and follow along with each weekly release by visiting the Uncertainly website: https://uncertaintyproject.org/
GAiN Europe online was an experiment but coordinators were delighted with the response – not just from Europe, but with participants from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. They were unanimous in inviting organisers to repeat the experience again.
Lina Vraka wrote in the chat, “This meeting has been a huge blessing. Would be very nice to have a repeat sometime soon.”
Andre and Penny Brink from South Africa stated that they were “so glad to be able to attend. If it were not online, we’d not have been able to! Let’s meet more regularly online, more than once per year.”
Alma Bosnić from Montenegro echoed, “It will be great to have such meetings more frequently, to see what is going on and to share ideas. That is very useful for unions with a few persons working in the media field.”
“This would allow to keep being involved and inspired,” affirmed Elsa Cozzi.
GAiN Europe aims to inform and network together with communicators in Europe and beyond working or volunteering in radio, TV, print, web, IT, and social media.