The Understanding Cinema project offers lots of opportunities to explore learning and sharing across the school year.
Our blog serves as a means to allow groups to see each other’s work; our tutors get together online and in person throughout the course of the year, sharing the experience of the project with each other, feeding back in to their groups; there are the sharing days at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June where the groups get to meet in person.
Yesterday at Eden Court in Inverness, following an invitation from Graeme Roger, tutor for the Inverness area, we ran a special day around the project showing films and running a workshop, which brought groups from Tain and Mosstodloch together for the first time.
Inspired by Mark Cousins’ A Story of Children and Film, Filmhouse and Mr Cousins created the Cinema of Childhoodproject, which screens 17 films from across the world to young audiences, who may not have had the chance to experience films from such diverse background before. We showed two of these films for our groups in Eden Court’s Playhouse Cinema.
The first to be screened was Herz Frank’s Ten Minutes Older, from Latvia in 1978. Filmed in a single long take lasting 9 minutes and 47 seconds, fitting in with our project’s theme this year, Ten Minutes Older follows the faces of an audience of young children watching a puppet play.
The group responded brilliantly to the film, we talked about the nature of the long take, and how it made them feel. When I asked them if any of them had ever seen anything like that film before, the majority of people said that they hadn’t, with the exception of one young man, who had already seen it. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the film.
Following Ten Minutes Older we screened Djibril Diop Mambety’s The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun. Filmed in Senegal in 1998, The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun tells the tale of a determined young girl with mobility issues, who sells The Sun newspaper on the streets of Dakar to help provide for herself and her blind grandmother. The film is, humble, positive and a testament to the power of self determination.
It was fascinating to watch Mambety’s Senegalese film with a group of children in Inverness. They sat, rapt, throughout the journey of the film. Used to conventional Hollywood narratives they found the end of the film different to much that hey had experienced before, proving a great source of discussion. The sound of Bagpipes on the film’s soundtrack provided an unexpected link to their home country and culture, giving a reference point that the group identified for both Scottish and certain African cultural identities.
When asked what they would change about the film one boy volunteered “Nothing – It was perfect.” When I asked how many people agreed with him, the vast majority of hands in the room shot up.
We were fortunate to have Eden Court’s Gaelic Creative Theatre Arts Worker Ruairidh Nicolson with us on hand to help out with the day. Ruairidh helps to deliver the Understanding Cinema project with Graeme in Tain, through the medium of Gaelic.
The whole day was delivered through a mix of Gaelic and English (and a splash of French for good measure, in keeping with the project’s roots), as I also run our group here on Mull through Gaelic.
In the afternoon the groups were mixed up together in a drama workshop.
Through a series of drama games we explored what the elements of a good story are, how an actor’s body reads in different states of tension and what drama is and what drama isn’t. The groups worked brilliantly together, all speaking the same language. The pieces that they created at the end of the session were clear, funny and thoroughly entertaining.
It was wonderful to get two of our groups together in person and explore what happens when we collaborate, and when we share a common experience of film together.
I look forward to seeing the final films of our groups from Mosstodloch and Tain, particularly after having met the artists behind their creation.
Many thanks to our partners in Eden Court for hosting the day, to Jamie – our projectionist, Ruairidh – for his fantastic pre-lunch workshop, and Graeme for inviting me over.