Monrovia

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Kriterion Monrovia
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In 2010 YUA was approached by SPARK to collaborate on a Kriterion art house cinema in Monrovia, Liberia. A small group of enthusiasts were inspired by the Kriterion model, as seen in Amsterdam. The group was encouraged by Richard van Hoolwerff, the country manager for SPARK in Liberia. Richard had been involved with the Kriterion Foundation in the past, as one of the founders of Kriterion restaurant ‘SKEK, in Amsterdam. Since then, the coordination of the project has been passed on to local Kriterion superstar Pandora Hodge.

The city Monrovia has been afflicted by two civil wars and an Ebola epidemic over the past decades, leaving little to no place for culture to thrive. Kriterion Monrovia will be the first real cinema in Liberia and will also provide a platform for young filmmakers and artists. The concept will allow youngsters to finance their own education while simultaneously gaining experience working in an independent cultural platform, which they will run together, without a manager or boss.

In 2011, the first market research was conducted. A total of 245 students were surveyed to test the feasibility of a Kriterion cinema in Monrovia. The research showed an overwhelming interest in African and Hollywood cinema. The Bollywood movies shown mostly across the city were unsatisfying to the Monrovian community. People showed great interest and enthusiasm towards the Kriterion concept and were also interested in working in such a place. In 2013, Kriterion Monrovia organized her first film screenings and in 2014, the first Kriterion Monrovia film festival took place, named “Image of Liberia”.

Unfortunately the Ebola-crisis raging through West-Africa forced the Kriterion Monrovia team to interrupt their activities in founding an art house cinema for quite some time. The dire situation in their country inspired them to join in on the fight against the deadly virus. With a group of over 70 volunteers, they crossed the entire country to educate people on the dangers of the disease, help them prevent infection and to supply infected areas with food packages. Now that West-Africa has been declared Ebola-free, the Kriterion Monrovia team is ready for the next step: We want art house cinema in Monrovia!

YUA shares her knowledge acquired during the establishment of Kriterion Sarajevo and advises the team how best to go about founding their own art house cinema according to the Kriterion model in their city. Furthermore, YUA is hard at work trying to raise funds for the Kriterion Monrovia team to help them reach the goal they have been working so hard on over the past years.

We at YUA have been convinced for quite some time that the story of Pandora and Kriterion Monrovia is incredibly special and inspiring. But now the international press is acknowledging their hard work as well! The BBC and Reuters have written about their successes in the past and goals for the future. If you want to know more about the project and the ways in which you can help, let us know and send an e-mail to info@yuafoundation.org.

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