Dominique Lorentz and Pascale Soares of Serve the City, in a portrait by Lala La Photo for Delano
Since its launch in Luxembourg in 2012, Serve the City volunteers have been involved in a variety of community projects. Its latest initiative is to host a series of movie nights for refugees.
Guided by a belief that “many people, doing small things together can make a big difference”, Serve the City’s army of volunteers provide services that include a twice-monthly “Street Team” to serve food for the homeless and chaperoning children in need and those with disabilities to events they otherwise might not be able to attend. Its latest project, “Filmowend mat Frënn” (Film Night with Friends), stemmed from the initiative of one volunteer who was showing monthly movies at the Foyer Saint Antoine in conjunction with Caritas.
“Serve The City learnt about the project and thought it was an excellent way to provide entertainment for refugees living in foyers [shelters] with minimal leisure activities,” explains Pascale Soares, who is responsible for coordinating the Filmowend mat Frënn initiative. The organisation submitted a proposal for financial assistance to Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, and were awarded a grant of €15,000 to purchase equipment. Currently movies are being screened once a month at four foyers. “But we hope to increase this in the future by collaborating with local communities to create a cultural exchange,” says Soares.
The equipment was professionally calibrated by light and sound technicians, so all the STC team has to do is choose appropriate films, set up the equipment and clean up afterwards. “We usually choose family type movies,” explains Dominique Lorentz, one of the film night volunteers. “But it depends on the particular foyer. Monopol is males only and they may have different preferences to Foyer Logopédie where there are a lot of families with children.”
Movies are usually shown in English with French or German subtitles, but where possible films can also be purchased with Arabic subtitles and are usually sourced from the UK. “The children especially enjoy the movies,” says Lorentz, “as it provides them with a distraction from their usual routine. However, the adults are always very kind and offer to help clean up after the movie has finished.”
“There are always two volunteers present at each movie night,” adds Soares, “as well as the security guards provided by the Croix-Rouge or Caritas in the shelters. It’s always good to have at least two people so they can help with the seating and find somewhere cosy for the children to sit.”
Soares hopes that in the future STC will be able to provide popcorn, beanbags and cushions for the movie goers, so that they feel more at ease. “We are always grateful for corporate sponsors who might want to assist either on a financial basis or by donating traditional carpets, cushions or other equipment.”
As Roman Polanski famously said: “Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theatre.” For asylum seekers who have been through so much, it offers a moment’s respite from reality. STC welcomes volunteers to help out at the movie nights, particularly in Oberkorn, Differdange and Weilerbach. Anyone interested can email Pascale Soares: [email protected]