2023 Renewable Energy Challenge highlights: Solar-powered movie night with Sunshine Cinema

May 31, 2023 | Blog, Climate Change

To bring the programme for the national final of the 2023 Renewable Energy Challenge (REC) to a close, Sunshine Cinema, a solar-powered mobile cinema initiative, treated our climate change champs to a movie night powered by renewable energy.

Sunshine Cinema is Africa’s first solar-powered cinema network . The film initiative addresses youth unemployment by creating training and job opportunities for young people through the Sunbox Ambassadorship programme. Youth participants in the programme are trained in media facilitation and entrepreneurship and are equipped with the skills necessary to become impact facilitators and earn an income from gig work. These ambassadors are empowered to become impact facilitators and make a difference in communities by harnessing the power of storytelling to spark social charge around important local issues and creating safe and inclusive spaces for conversations around sensitive subjects.

To do this, ambassadors conduct free solar-powered mobile cinema screenings using a Sunbox. The Sunbox includes a solar PV portable power system – this is a battery that is charged using solar panels. The battery is then used to power the other equipment needed for the screening, such as the projector. Other pieces in the sun box include the speaker, foldout screen, tripod or stand for the projector, blackout material, and a camera for the screening to be documented.

After an action-packed two-day programme of site visits and educational workshops, including the competition final at Enlit Africa Conference, the REC participants settled down at the GreenCape Events Space for a film screening session facilitated by Nthabiseng Mogashoa, alongside Thando Rotwane and Nonto Sibanyoni from Sunshine Cinema on their final night.

The evenings proceedings started off with some fun ice breaker games, followed by a short dialogue on how Sunshine Cinema started and uses solar energy to power their operations. After an adrenaline rush of pizza, popcorn and slush puppies, the learners screened the short films “Grace” (a film documenting the journey of Lloyd Maanyina, a Zambian man who used to cut down trees for charcoal burning as a form of income) and “Beatrice” (a short film that highlights the work that a young person is doing in Zambia – using radio to challenge mindsets and shift attitudes around environmental issue). The team at Sunshine Cinema brought it home with the screening of “A Climate Justice Reality”- highlighting what South African youth are doing to bring awareness to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Each film screening was followed by a feedback session, with some thoughtful feedback and commentary.

The last event for the night was an interactive quiz session, which ended with some of the learners walking away with some exciting prizes for their active participation and listening.

We would like thank Sunshine Cinema for bringing the spirit of community and the power of African storytelling to give these learners a well-rounded and holistic understanding of the impact of climate change on urban and rural communities. The coming together of SA Climate Change Champs and Sunshine Cinema demonstrates the power of collaboration between initiatives with a shared approach – which is youth empowerment and collaboration with communities, local civil society organisations and community-led advocacy groups for active citizenship to enable impactful change in society.


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