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About this submission


To give the general viewer an understanding of what an assistance programme for refugees and other displaced peoples is like.


This film aims to give a good representation of what a fairly typical operation to support peoples displaced by violent conflicts would be like anywhere in the world. It consists of ten ‘vignettes’, or profiles of the individual projects of the UN Refugee Agency in Azerbaijan at the time of filming, which, when put together, give the viewer a complete picture of what the film hopes to communicate,

In the full version of the film, the action starts early on Monday morning and continues through to Friday afternoon. We get to to see one project will be presented in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

In the final version of the voice over, it is planned that the nationalities and ethnicity of the project beneficiaries, as well as location and date of filming will be deliberately not given in order to try and give the film a universal and timeless feel.

This version of the film shows the first five projects of the film:

• Refugee Protection;
• The Refugee Status Determination Department;
• Primary and Secondary Education;
• The Refugee Women’s and Children’s Centre;
• Social Assessment of the Living Conditions of Refugees;

Each individual vignette makes clear what is the overall objective of the project, what it’s individual activities are, and who are it’s beneficiaries. This is done in a different way each time, taking into account the particularities of each project.

The approach taken by the film is of narration backed by appropriate shots with natural sound from each shoot location that, interviews with relevant personnel, and one piece that is partially observational.

The second half of the film follows the same pattern as this extract and covers the following projects:

• Humanitarian Assistance Distribution;
• Primary Health Care;
• Shelter Project;
• Income Generation Activities;
• Festival at the Women's and Children's Centre.


I welcome any feedback on any aspect of the film that can help make the film better. However, when doing so, please take into consideration the following:

• This was my first film, and this version of the film was made over ten years ago pretty much without any kind of outside support or mentoring.
• When I see it now, I would have more information conveyed through interview and observation than by voice over.
• For the final version, I plan to make changes to the voice over to make it not time and location specific, and not stating the national identities of the refugees.
• In the final version of the film I intend to do a more 'upbeat' and compelling sounding voice over.
• The feel of the film as it is at present is more like a ‘jigsaw puzzle’, the individual pieces of which, when put together, give the viewer a complete picture of what the film hopes to communicate, than a story with a main protagonist’s journey, separate acts, and a central conflict.
• Do you think there is any way the film could be reworked to include the following eight classical story telling elements?:

1. A protagonist
2. An antagonist
3. A desire
4. An inciting incident
5. A journey
6. A crisis
7. A climax
8. A resolution

Symon Lord
I am from York in the UK, and my professional experience has mostly been in Education and Training, and in Project Management and Evaluation in the provision of developmental and humanitarian assistance. As my academic background is in Russian and post-Soviet Studies, much of my work experience has been in the countries of the former-USSR. I have always had an interest in documentary, and desire to make them. My documentary skills have been largely learned by completing short courses, attending film-related events, a lot of self-study, and action with careful preparation. The original version of my film ‘A Week in the Life of a Refugee Assistance Organization’ was completed in 2010. From 2009 to 2014 I did a lot of work on a character-based documentary project about labor migration from central Asia to Russia, which was not completed. Since late 2019, I have focused on developing my documentary filmmaking skills and networking in the industry not least by attending numerous online and in-person events of organizations such as Sundance Collab, The D-Word, ScreenSkills, The Documentary Association of Europe, the International Documentary Association, The British Film Institute, and the UK’s new Documentary Film Council. As of Spring 2024, I have two projects to move forwards. The first is my first short film ‘A Week in the Life of a Refugee Assistance Organization’ which is close to completion, and just about ready for film festival entry. The second is a project proposal/pitch for a feature documentary about a refugee family from the current Ukraine conflict, for which I am currently in the process of looking for potential backers and collaborators.

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