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Jijo Sebastian likes two things best in life, he says: making films and connecting with new people.

Socially engaged community art – the kind he has focused on in his filmmaker career – brings both, said Sebastian last Tuesday, in the café of the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square.

The Hugh Lane Gallery and Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts, recently commissioned him to make a new film.

His idea is to create not just a film but a small diverse community whose members he hopes stay engaged and connected long after the project wraps up, says Sebastian.

For that, Sebastian is searching for five or six families – “hopefully from five different continents” – in the city.

Together they will work for one year to create a film, he said. “People will be actively involved; maybe they will be actors themselves, or maybe they will be part of the editing.”

Making Together

Sebastian is a self-taught filmmaker, he says. “I studied everything on YouTube.”

He has a background in science and an interest in social activism and so he is keen, he says, on how films can spur change.

“Collaborative filmmaking I would call half-activism and half-art; there’s social activism involved,” he says.

In his last project,Colour of My Breath, he reels through migrant artists voicing desires for familiarity and integration in a new country, often while grappling with homesickness and traces of trauma.

But the shape or format of Sebatsian’s new project is still undecided. Once he picks the families suited for the project, they will hang out, get to know each other, tease out ideas together, and sketch out a storyline.

“They will be part of all, you know, content and form of the film,” said Sebastian.

After they agree on a storyline, he says, they work together and learn how to turn it into a professional film while learning more about each other.

They don’t have to have a background in film or previous professional experience, he says. “No experience necessary,” says Sebastian’s volunteer-seeking leaflet.

Unlike in Colour of My Breath, Sebastian is not just looking for migrants or people of colour as collaborators this time.

“It wouldn’t be transcultural if there wasn’t a White Irish family,” he says, smiling.

Keelin Murray, communications and publishing manager at Create, the organisation that has co-funded the project, says it may also inspire participants to consider a career in the arts and realise that there are funding avenues for their own collaborative creative ideas out there.

“Even if we can’t fund something, we would like to think we can direct people to where they might be able to find funding,” says Murray.

For Sebastian, embarking on the odyssey of forging new connections through film evokes feelings of both excitement and angst.

Building a community and sustaining a bond among its members can be daunting, he says. “That’s going to be a challenge, you know, which is I’m looking forward to as a challenge, but at the same time, I’m a little anxious.”

“I want to make sure that this community will live after the project as well, you know?” he says.

If you are interested in participating in the project or need more details to make up your mind, email before 5 April.

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim Malekmian covers the immigration beat for Dublin Inquirer. Reach her at

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