IFC: Beyond Borders: Personal Stories From a Small Planet

Jun 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

In IFC’s documentary short series “Beyond Borders: Personal Stories From a Small Planet,” 10-year-old Mohamed Sidibay talks about how he escaped life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In the film he’s a fourth-grader who likes to play soccer, but two years earlier he commanded rebel troops in Western Africa.
The purpose of his story and those of the eight others in the series was to examine the fears of today’s youth around the world and how they overcome them.
“He told his personal story of how he was able to escape and build a better life. It’s personal but it can’t help but resonate with a larger audience,” said Rhea Mokund, director of Listen Up!, a media organization that connects young filmmakers with projects worldwide.
She’s part of the team that produced “Beyond Borders,” which ran on IFC in 2006, chronicling personal and global issues confronting today’s youth.
Another short piece in the series centered on a transgendered teen in New York and her struggles to fit in. “Her fears are very different, but these stories work well together and you get a global picture of what young people are dealing with,” said Austin Haeberle, creative director of Listen Up! and producer of the documentary.
The project came together when Ms. Mokund reached out to youth filmmaking teams around the world, providing cash awards, and in some cases equipment, to help them develop their stories. The final compilation consisted of nine short films with stories from Afghanistan, Argentina, Colombia, Jordan, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Ukraine and the United States. The youth teams in each of the locations served as field producers, while Listen Up! produced the full project.
The subjects included a 13-year-old in Colombia who writes and performs raps to speak out against violence; an Afghani refugee living in Virginia after fleeing the Taliban; and students in Illinois who staged the largest student walkout ever to protest the war in Iraq.
“All of the stories really work together because they begin to tell stories about the common bond and all of them move so easily between the personally engaging story and the larger context of what’s going on politically,” Ms. Mokund said.


  1. I have read the reviews for Beyond Borders: and would like to obtain a copy to show at a Women’s Retreat in a few weeks. There are many teachers who attend and we are all interested in education and the plight of women around the world.

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