In November 2019, while reporting on the refugee settlements of the West Nile region of northern Uganda, the ArtsEverywhere team encountered a young storyteller and aspiring filmmaker, Ray Styles, in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Resettlement. In collaboration with Ray’s community-based organization Rise Up & Talk, ArtsEverywhere began developing the idea of the Bidi Bidi Media Lab––a creative space run by a team of refugee-artists in the camp with access to equipment and expertise to cultivate the skills to become visual storytellers.
In March 2020, one day before the ArtsEverywhere team was to return to Uganda, pandemic travel restrictions were put in place, forcing the remote development of the project. Over months of emails, text messages and zoom chats, Ray Styles was able to work—with minimal access to recording equipment and restricted mobility—with graphic journalist and project coordinator German Andino to create the first in a series of animated short films documenting the stories behind the lives of residents of Bidi Bidi.
Throughout 2021, Ray and German will continue to train local storytellers and create visual media aimed at empowering local cultural production by exposing it to the world outside the resettlement and will complete the three-part series of animated shorts.
In early 2020, graphic journalist German Andino and filmmaker Ray Styles were preparing to launch the Bidi Bidi Media Lab in Uganda when Covid-related travel restrictions forced them to improvise and collaborate across thousands of miles to co-produce their first animated film together.