The Youth Misinterpreted crew
Stories & Ideas

Tue 31 Jan 2017

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Your museum of screen culture

Public programs associate producer Emily Siddons uncovers how young people are using film and online platforms to affect change

Rendah wants to change the world.

It’s a tall ask for someone fresh out of uni but Rendah Haj, founder of the collective Youth Misinterpreted, is doing just that.

Through Youth Misinterpreted, Rendah creates a dialogue and stitches together a network of young people. Using film, conversation and online platforms, they confront issues facing today’s young people in the hopes of uniting and empowering youth on a global scale.

I caught up with Rendah to find out more about this collective, who recently held the launch of their new film series at ACMI in conjunction with Signal Summer.

Emily Siddons: What is Youth Misinterpreted?

Rendah Haj: Fundamentally, a movement and social enterprise establishing and voicing awareness for social issues and diversity, in aim to engage, unite and empower young individuals. 

ES: How did this collective come into being?

RH: It started off as a film project of mine when I was in high school, the concept simply exploring youth culture at its core through experimental documentary style filmmaking and providing young people with a platform to express themselves honestly and freely. After establishing a team to work with me, and collaborating with other young artists (both in Melbourne and internationally), it started evolving into more of a movement and became more socially interactive. We started interviewing more people as part of our photo series and found a way to physically engage and bring young individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities together by having social events - now that’s a core element of what we do.

ES: You described Youth Misinterpreted as a "movement", what do you hope to achieve?

RH: A generational revolution I hope! Haha. It’s all about uniting and empowering youth, that’s something I hope to achieve with YM on a global scale. I want our work to be able to extend to as many people as possible and start uniting individuals based on shared emotional common grounds. The capabilities of our generation is incredible, but there definitely needs to be less disconnect within societies; young people need to relate more to each other and recognise their collective power in order to create change. 

ES: Your tool for communicating your message is filmmaking, can you tell us why you chose this medium and how you use it?

RH: I’ve always loved cinema. I’m mostly inspired by the French New Wave and Italian neo-realist films from the 60s because those were undoubtedly the most revolutionary and prominent eras of societal change through film.  I’m not really an activist but I want my art to be impactful and I believe it’s the most powerful tool of creating change and raising awareness. I think the work I’m trying to produce and share can only be expressed and received through film. My film work is mostly documentary style, focusing on relevant but underrated social issues and exploring the human psyche in its most honest form.

ES: Tell us about the three short films you have created?

RH: ‘Dialogue’ is the second instalment to the Youth Misinterpreted documentary series which first launched in November 2015. This series focuses on three empowering young individuals and explores essential themes and topics relevant in their lives, as a means to express their emotions and opinions, and start dialogue about relevant and important issues. This series is definitely quite intimate as we explore core ideas and emotions in depth and the filmmaking aesthetic itself is very raw and experimental and less formal.

ES: What is in store for the future of Youth Misinterpreted?

RH: Who knows! YM is constantly evolving, quite quickly too, we have new ideas and projects all the time. Definitely more events to get more people involved and right now we are working on a live talks event and discussion called We Are, Power which will be held at Signal Arts. It’s a free monthly talks series bringing relevant societal topics to the forefront and empowering the modern generation through unfiltered dialogue and honest conversation.