Omnes is an artistic and social NGO that focus on exchange between EU and MENA.
The goal of the organisation is building bridges between cultures. by bringing together citizens to build trust and improve mutual understanding. We promote knowledge, recognition and mutual respect between the religions and beliefs, cultures and values.with basic belief in fundamental freedom,human rights and freedom of expression by organising different types of artistic activities who contribute to realise this goal.
ARAB CARTOON FESTIVAL
Ali Farzat’s, a Syrian cartoonist, hands were broken by agents of the Syrian government, because he draw cartoons criticizing President Bashar al-Assad. Majda Shaheen, a Palestinian cartoonist, life and safety was threatened for drawing cartoons criticizing Palestinian politics.
Political cartoons are in many areas of the world the most read and remembered opinions in the popular media. Even if people do not read the political page of a newspaper, they most likely looked at the corresponding political cartoon of the page.
This is why cartoonist like Farzat are often the first journalists targeted by extremists (and governments). Certainly in areas where press and freedom of expression are fragile. Cartoonists question and challenge the government, instead of bravely follow their leadership. They do not aim to tell ‘the truth’ (truth is a subjective concept), but let the public reflect on recent events and generate discussion.
Continuing on the human right to freedom of expression. This right is interpreted differently in the MENA region as in Europe. In MENA, the freedom of expression is limited by rules and laws. Cartoonists can not draw about religion, politics or any big change in the society. The Arab Spring in 2010 opened doors to freedom for the cartoonists. They could stand up and draw about what they see in the society. This generated a big change in the lives of Arab people. Although, the cartoonists are still limited in comparison to Europe. The European democracy has a broader view on the freedom of expression. European cartoonists can draw about religion, politics and big changes in the society without being afraid to get caught by the police. The concern in Europe is the thin line between freedom of expression and insult or discrimination. This thin line has led in the past to events as the Charlie Hebdo attack.
In 2015 Ali Nazir Ali started a dialogue with Juan Zero (Artist and social media cartoonist) to create a cross cultural Arab Cartoonist platform,bringing together Arab cartoonists with world wide cartoonists,voices who believes in fundamental freedoms,peace and Human rights using cartoons to connect,reform and change societies.
in 2016 we gathered 16 Cartoonists from all over the world in the first event which was Arab Cartoon Festival 2016 which was hosted by de Warande in the city of Turnhout .and because of the success the festival expanded fast to move for two different cities beside Turnhout (Antwerp and Brussels),as we believe that we can bring our festival to any cultural venue around the globe.
The core of the festival exists of fifty cartoons. Sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic. These cartoons show you how the people of the MENA (Middle-East and North-Africa) experience and interpret humor. In six short movies the cartoonists talk about their artwork, the themes they play and struggle with and how a cartoonist leads his of her life. Via interactive whiteboards you can draw a cartoon or ‘send’ a message to other visitors, to Turnhout, to the ‘world’. In the fashion room you’ll be offered a unique chance to dress in the traditional and modern clothing of the people living in the MENA.
Omnes is running the festival again in 2017 second edition of Arab Cartoon Festival will again present a multidisciplinary program that outsteps the borders of the visual arts, and focuses on ‘cartoons’, not only in form, but also in spirit or tactics.
The second edition revolves around the theme of ‘Cracks in the society’.with cooperation with de Warande and support of Stad Turnhout,Moussem vzw,Stribgids,Achitects in Motion,Bozar and Hetpalies.
Oase Film Festival:
Recently a huge number of people from the MENA fled to Europe. What does our society know about these new citizens? We hear a lot of news from the MENA, mostly about the suppressive regime, corruption, terror attacks and so on. It gives the impression that daily life is controlled by ongoing conflict and war. That is one side of the reality, but life goes on.
Cinema gives an inside view and explains the reality of the society. It shows the real stories of the life these people fled from. Having to deal with changing family relationships, risking life by cautiously pursuing emancipation, losing their home, losing hope in the future.
In addition, the MENA cinema industry is a very old and developed industry with extraordinary scripts and stories. Showing these movies in our society is enriching for the Belgian cinema culture.
Oase Film Festival started in 2016 with the first edition organized by Omnes vzw with cooperation with MOOOV and support of Stad Turnhout.again in 2017 Omnes continues with the second edition with cooperation with MOOOV and de Warande supported by Stad Turnhout.
2018 Omnes will continue with both festival with cooperation with our partners,at the same time we are investigating the possibilities for building a new Art Festival with a multidisciplinary program that outsteps the borders of the visual arts and cinema,to music theater dance and other types of art focusing on the exchange between EU and MENA.
For this year 2017 our two festivals are going on the same period bringing MENA atmosphere to the city of Turnhout,and as an outcome from this experience we are looking to our next Art Festival.