Film education/literacy What does it mean
& where does it come from? Ian Christie www.ianchristie.org
Cinema is changing…
Education is changing…
…although not for everyone
Between 1905-14 the Jesuit Abbé Joye collected films for weekly shows to young people in Basel, Switzerland
The ciné-club and film society movements spread rapidly during the 1920s – many of them offering lectures and practical classes in filmmaking
Film enthusiasts in many countries learned the new language of ‘montage’ from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1926) – still being taught long after the silent era as the ‘grammar of film’
Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) made spectacular use of deepfocus composition in depth, and launched the new wave of misen-scene film aesthetics
The critic André Bazin (here in Cannes, with Sadoul and Zavattini) would promote misen-scene criticism and decoding film’s meaning in his influential writing – and would inspire the French ‘new wave’ of Godard, Truffaut etc
In the 1970s and 80s, ‘film theory’ became a specialised academic field – far removed from the world of ‘film appreciation’. And from teaching children about cinema.
During the 60s and 70s –
Marshall McLuhan’s ideas about ‘the medium as the message’ also launched Media Studies. And Cultural Studies emerged to analyse how popular media shape and reflect social attitudes.
Amid all this theorising of film, media and society – there was also a tradition of promoting filmmaking for and by young people (like the Childrens Film Foundation and the Children’s Film Unit)
Meanwhile, the custom of Saturday film matinees began to disappear
Film in schools
| (school)kids in cinemas
Film in schools | (school)kids in cinemas Country-wide and regional organisations
And what’s the aim of all this? Historically, Vincent Pinel defined the aim of French cine-clubs as threefold:
A method - a club which shows films that are reviewed and discussed; a fact the collective effort of a group of spectators to get to know and love the cinema, and a goal – an organization dedicated to training viewers through contact with the work.
Or, consider how a cine-club discussion was intended to proceed: • 1 - evoke impressions and reactions to images and sounds by spectators • 2 - ask the public to discern the themes of the film • 3 - determine the meaning of the work • 4 - appreciate qualities and defects, discuss the effectiveness of the writing, the staging [l’écriture, la mise en scène] • 5 - situate the work in comparison with other films by the same director • 6 - to compare with other films and other directors.
So what does film education/literacy mean today? A definition offered by the BFI: “the level of understanding of
a film, the ability to be conscious and curious in the choice of films; the competence to critically watch a film and to analyse its content, cinematography and technical aspects; and the ability to manipulate its language and technical resources in creative moving image production”
I’m not too happy with this. It shows traces of the old ‘language of cinema’ approach – spotting how filmic techniques are used.
We also have to deal with fashion and taste – why some films (in black & white) may look out of date. To push the children’s taste – but also to respect it. And we have to remember that a cinema is not a classroom: it should be a place where magic happens…
What’s missing I think is the fact that films can really move and impress us – blow us away. We need to respect their power (for good and bad) – and not just teach trainspotting
meaning / canons / threshold
How’s it done?
1. Top down, as in France: Ecole et cinema, organised at national level by Ministry of Education, with CNC [or in UK: National Schools Film Week] - or in UK and other countries, with national exam syllabuses offered, which individual schools may teach, depending on suitable staffing* 2. Regional, initiated by cinemas, like Les Grignoux (Belgium); screeningbased, with centrally produced documentation.
3. Individual schools’ initiative: a) Recreational/cultural – after-school screenings (like Filmclub in UK) b) One-off cinema visits, for screenings that may support wide range of curriculum subjects (literature/history/geography/politics etc)
The books The teachers constitute the major partners of the "Ecran large sur tableau noir" project: therefore it is essential to take into account their expectations, backgrounds and abilities, which are multiple, various and surely incomplete as far as cinema is concerned. Thanks to these educational books, the people in charge of the "Ecran large sur tableau noir" project can address the teachers in a very simple way, which does not require any previous training course in the cinematographic field; that way, the teachers just need to use the abilities and tools they already possess. Moreover, these books take current film knowledge into account: even though there are many theories about cinema and many methods to analyze a movie, some of these theories are not even close to ensuring a proper knowledge that could enable people to approach all film productions in a thoughtful and critical way.
Each educational book meets 2 requirements: 1. Will the teachers be able to use the given tools and reflection topics?
2. What will these tools and reflection topics bring to the students? And will the students be able to apply all the things they've possibly learned to other movies?
Sheffield – an example of close cooperation between the university and Showroom Cinema
Issues for school-cinema cooperation: - Training the teachers/facilitators – who takes the lead? Who offers training? Who pays?
- Space: are films best viewed in a classroom? But if shown in the cinema, is the screening open to the public? And who pays? Good use of cinema space? - Documentation and publicity: who produces this; in what style; and who pays (or volunteers) Whatever state or regional support, this is all highly person-dependent. Needs commitment by individuals!
Cinemas and young people in the digital era
How modern do (most) cinemas look in the modern environment?
• Is there a ‘threshold’ problem? • Would I feel comfortable if I entered?
• Who would I meet? • (my parents???) • Would my friends think this was a cool place to be? • Do I have to be an expert to come here?
Another traditional service has faced the same problem – libraries. They see a threshold problem…
How can cinemas improve their appeal to young people? An historic example which inspired many Europa Cinemas members was the Netherlands MovieZone, started over a decade ago in ‘Hooght, Utrecht*
*(Cute, certainly, but is it cool?)
The basic idea was to offer a programme of films showing in the afternoon, intended for school pupils – as they moved between school and home. A kind of drop-in club, without too much obvious ‘education’… The experiment was successful, and developed into a national programme, with its own programmer and administrator.
Movie Zone is the place to learn everything about film. Movie Zone provides teachers in content (moving) images and text to learning about film school ( movie, create and analyze ) and provides film as a place in education. Movie Zone offers : FILM TIPS MovieZone tips appropriate , specific and current films , both lower and upper school, HAVO and VWO. These films can be in the classroom or in a cinema or movie theater… and make use of the film-specific information on the site. LESSON MATERIALS On MovieZone you find a teacher's guide ( with analysis ) and free worksheets to use in a movie discussion in the classroom . Through the lessons students will get to work with artistic and technical aspects of film. EDUCATIONAL EVENTS IN CINEMAS Movie Zone and We Want Cinema offer an educational tool to help teachers to organise an educational presentation at the movies, whether in a cinema or cultural centre.
Another useful sitespecific example: the UK’s first ‘media centre’, Watershed in Bristol
Watershed has successfully created a brand
Hampered by its iimited space, in historic premises, Watershed has created an impressive and varied online presence in DShed http://www.watershed.co.uk/dshe d/bristol-stories
Issue #2 Alt Content
In Sweden: € 3,6 m from Alt Content events, compared with the income from 3,711 screenings over the same period: €4,5 m So ‘alternative content’ is spreading like wildfire – or like a virus, as DIRE would probably say... It offers cinemas a) Higher revenue per seat sold (and so faster amortisation of costs of digital projection) b) The chance to attract a new audience (who may come back to see upmarket films)
Impossible to predict how this new struggle for screen time will be resolved. Will it favour blockbuster films, by squeezing out riskier independent film bookings? Or could AC subsidize venues to present a more varied content? The digital cinematheque... or will this be by VOD?
Might the ‘film only’ programming of cinemas have been a temporary phase, from around 1950 to 2010?
The internet is not like plumbing Social media are interactive.
Better use of media, including print as well as social media. NB Communicqtion is a two-way process
(meaning you have to show you’re listening to your customers, as well as telling them what’s on)
Do I get emails like this from my local cinema(s)?
Sometimes, but they’re often little more than standard listing Information, re-formatted for the web
Interactive marketing of a hotel group – creating a ‘community’
And finally… online/digital and the cinema experience
• How do we choose? • How do we manage our time? • What is the place of ‘screen time’ in our lives?
(and how will it be for today’s infant interacters?)