Informative plattform of International Federation of Film Societies- Féderation Internationalle des Ciné-clubs- Federación Internacional de Cine Clubes
In the first half of the 2010’s, the Danish Association for Children’s and Youth’s Film Clubs (DaBUF) sat out to outline a vision for children’s film clubs in Denmark. Basically, the vision states that all children should have the possibility of encounters with film as an art form. Once we had established our vision it would seem appropriate to have a pay-off sentence (or a slogan if you like). In Danish the phrase we settled on is ‘Film skal ses i fællesskab’. Which translates ‘Film is a shared experience’ –except the fact that the connotations and the alliterations get lost in translation. In DaBUF we believed that we still had some explanation to offer in order to make clear exactly what we understand, when we say ‘children’, ‘film’ and ‘film club’. Thusly, we decided to put in single simple sentences what we talk about when we say ‘children’, ‘film’ or ‘film club’. Full of righteousness, we claimed the sentences were ‘theses’. Truths, we considered to be self-evident.
The 15 theses are as follows:
Simple and obvious as the theses may seem, we still felt they needed a little more explanation. By 2017 we went to it. Wrote explanations or enlightenments for each thesis. As it turned out, we were a choir of various voices and some explanations are repetitions; some might even be in conflict. Still, both theses and enlightenments are heartfelt.
Now, facing a new decade, we have realised that our theses and even more the unfolding of them, are not exactly carved in stone tablets. They are written in sand. In time arguments will role over our statements; eroding them and in time make them vanish. Fine by us. We just hope to provoke to open-mindedness and debate. If only for the first part of the decade.
This is our truth, please tell us yours.
Film is an immediate media. The moving images are potent vehicles for thoughts ideas and imagination. Film is a powerful tool to shape our concepts of achievable worlds and possible lives. Perhaps more powerful than any of the other six art forms. Moving images takes up yet more time and energy amongst children and young people. The possibilities are literally endless. A full life’s span wouldn’t be enough to watch today’s content on YouTube. And tomorrow there will be even more videos to watch.
This is why people who deal with adolescents and cultural literacy should seek out the best films and find the ones that hold the strongest points and are meaningful to children and young people – actually to all of God’s children. Children and young people need to be challenged in their vision of life and diversity in the great humanistic tradition of art and human endeavour. Screenings for children and young people (and adults) should present films strong in artistic ambition and able to shake the ground we take for granted.
In short: The films we screen should stand up like steadfast rocks in the restless ocean the media represents.
It would seem that Scandinavian children and young people all share the same opportunities in life. Especially when they are compared with adolescents in less fortunate areas of the world. True as this may be, it does not show the full picture. Not every child or youngster has the possibility to encounter culture in their local community. To some families a trip to the cinema can be an extravagance they simply cannot afford. Other families just do not have the resources. Consequently, people screening films for children and young people should strive to also reach out to those that are less fortunate, those who do not have access to cultural communities, to involve them in engaging films. Films that will give insight and courage to yearn for a more just world.
In time this will produce active, engaged and curious citizens.
Children and young people are individuals. Consequently, they have a right to be heard and a right to films of their own. Films that deal with issues that represent their own lives. Films kept in a tone that entertain and challenge them. Children and young people are vulnerable and changeable. Seeking answers and guidance. This means that we, adults, owe it to the generations to exceed us, that we show them entertaining films that pass on wisdom and awareness. The combination of children and film holds a promising symbiosis between pedagogical responsiveness and artistic expression.
Children and young people have the right to be stimulated intellectually. This stimulation prepares them for a society in constant transformation. Also, intellectual stimuli like challenges, inspiration and engagement are keys to a carefree and happy childhood and adolescence. If you live your formative years free of care you tend to have the capacity to become creative, independent and minded for democracy. Consequently, more immune to various forms of radicalism.
The Scandinavian societies are built on the faith in individuals’ capacity and willingness to engage in and develop democratic institutions and communities. This means that, even as children, we need to understand and absorb democracy. This exact understanding is what we wish to pass on to the children in our film clubs. The shared experience and the voluntary work of the people screening films shows children the value of democratic social forums.
DaBUF wishes to promote film as more than merely a passing flicker in a cinematic theatre. DaBUF wishes to encourage consumption of film to be an experience in its own right, by selecting films of substance and giving the films enlightening introductions.
Children and young people must be accepted as active and creative collaborators. Our vision is to make a fertile room for film that in depiction address a young audience – and which have young people as protagonists and role models. Furthermore, we wish to give the young audience opportunities to produce films on their own.
Understanding film is to experience, understand and create.
In a world that is closely connected and yet bigger than ever before, we have an acute need for stories to remind us of our differences. And we need stories to teach us how to accept these differences. It is important that we acknowledge and recognise our various identities.
Cinematic tales that make us aware of idiosyncrasies and of other people’s perspectives not only make better artistic experiences. They make the world a better place.
In short: Film is an excellent media to understand the world and to bridge diversity.
‘One hour of tv should inspire 100 hours of play’. This sentence from Danish Broadcast TV we would like ultimately to make ours. DaBUF encourages its film club members to aid children and young people to make their own films. Having tried to make films of their own, children and youngsters will realise the potential of the media.
At least the films we show to members should encourage them to tell their own stories in their own words. Also, films in the film club should help members to frame their personal stories, teaching them narratives they can use to reflect their personal stories.
When we settle down to watch a film, we often seek to forget the daily struggle for a few hours. Time and again we find ourselves moved, puzzled or even amazed. Unfortunately, not all films for children has more valuable goals than to earn money for the producers. Therefore film clubs should introduce films with the potential to move the members, to arouse curiosity and wonder and to surprise them with cinematic effects and narratives. Good films can (as is the case for all true art) touch its spectator and even be the inspiration that changes a life.
The number of films produced each year is abundant. For film clubs the challenge is to pick out the very best. Lots of films we never hear of, some we watch because we know what to expect, others are forgotten the second they end. But a few of them stay with us. Maybe these films do something different; they might challenge the genre, tell their stories from a new or different perspective. Maybe the film uses light, cut or angles in a brand-new way. Or perhaps the film touches us in ways no moving image has ever done before. Films that expand the filmic language should be praised and deserve to be met by the largest possible audience. It goes without saying that these films stand first in line in the film clubs’ endeavour.
Often, the film club is an inexpensive way to meet film as a bearer of cultural heritage and as vehicle for captivating stories. Ideally, the film club can work as melting pot for all the kinds and sorts that make up the world. Make them gather around the campfire made up of meaningful and challenging tales told in moving images. Thereby create a common ground on which we can all stand.
The fact that film is a shared experience ought to be self-evident. Watching a film with others is to share a common experience for a few hours. The sensation of collective laughs and gasps; the sound and smell of people having popcorn; it all adds up to an awareness of being part of a whole. When you are enriched by a cultural experience in the company of others, you may realise that you are truly alive when you are reflected by the presence of other humans.
Just as we value the possibility of sharing cultural events such as exhibitions, music and other arts in our local communities; children should have the possibility to enjoy film in screening rooms not too far from where they live. Furthermore, the films screened should broaden the minds of the children and young people towards other cultural ventures. Preferably curated by volunteers.
This thesis is dual. On one hand adults spending time in the film club should believe that their time is well spent, that they make a difference in the members’ lives. That the films they select will enlighten and touch the members. On the other hand, the young members hopefully come to the film club of their own free will. And they need to have the impression that the film club offers a special room; a room for contemplation, reflection, togetherness and pleasure.
An honourable hope for the film club is to show beloved classics. Everlasting masterpieces that has been appreciated for generations might find a new and grateful audience in the film club. These films have the potential to mediate inalienable lessons to new generations.
The film club should also be the place meet contemporary films addressed at a young audience. Hopefully the young members will realise that their stories and eras are as relevant as the stories of old.
Finally, the children and young people might discover the future in the film club. Either in new and up to this point untold storylines, undiscovered cinematic effects or the newest in technology.
Film is a shared experience that defies time and place.
Danish Association for Children’s and Youth’s Film Clubs (DaBUF)