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Industry Report: Film Literacy

Cinekid's Wrap!: A new educational distribution system

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Cinekid's Wrap!: A new educational distribution system

- In October 2014 at Cinekid for Professionals, six European countries gathered to begin the process of building a catalogue of European films for children, with accompanying educational materials, that will be accessible across the whole of Europe. This initiative is called Wrap! and heralds the development of a new educational distribution system designed to improve the reach of young audiences.

The project is coordinated by Stichting Cinekid Amsterdam, the Film, Television and Digital media festival for children. Nienke Poelsma, Head of the Cinekid’s professionals program, has answered our questions and told us about the Wrap! project.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

THE IDEA

How did you come up with this idea?
The main objective of the Wrap! project is to build a catalogue of European films for children, with accompanying educational materials. In this way facilitating educational distribution to reach young audiences with these films and learning materials and develop these audiences further. The more we help developing an appreciation and taste for European films from an early age by providing new and different European children’s films, the more we will be able to help develop a new generation of audiences. We will lose audiences in the near future if we keep neglecting an outreach towards European children with EU content. As a film festival for children, we see that many of the films we show at our festival do not make their way to a greater public. Educational screenings is a way of giving these films the audience they deserve, with the bonus that the lesson materials give them the right basis/background information which is often necessary to appreciate and enjoy these often different films than they might be used to.

Did you and your partners previously develop something similar before starting this project?
Before the Wrap project, Cinekid received a two year grant from the Dutch Film Fund in 2013 to acquire 5 European films in order to stimulate the educational distribution of non-national children’s films in The Netherlands. Dutch distributors acquire less international children’s films and fewer films, if any, are available for educational programmes, such as Cinekid on Location. In this scheme Cinekid collaborated with EYE Film Institute Netherlands and Dutch public broadcaster for children Z@pp to produce didactical materials and to cover the costs of the expensive dubbing or subtitling.

What is the name of the other institutions in the consortium and what is their core activity?

1. Poland: New Horizons Association

Contact: Maciek Jakubczyk, Head of Education & Film Distribution

New Horizons Association is a non-governmental organization based in Warsaw and Wroclaw in Poland. Their main activity is T-mobile New Horizons International Film Festival - festival aimed to directors who search for new ways of expression in cinema language. Apart from the festival they do a number of different projects - all based around art-house cinema. They also do educational projects for schools where they screen mostly unknown films for audiences between the ages of 5 and 19. 

2. Sweden: Biografcentralen

Contact: Jens Lanestrand, Executive Director  

Founded in 2011, Biografcentralen is an organisation and resource for independent and arthouse cinemas in Sweden. Its activities include training, consultancy and distribution of high quality films, with a special focus on children's films, classics and independent titles. Biografcentralen also runs a Europa Cinemas mini-network of three cinemas. Jens Lanestrand has been manager of operations at Biografcentralen since 2011 and has a long experience of school cinema work in Sweden, both local, regional and national.

3. Finland; Espoo Cine International Film Festival

Contact: Mia Vainikainen, Director

Espoo Ciné IFF has 26 years of experience in providing children’s films for the schools in the capital area of Finland. Over the years more than 75,000 school and daycare kids have entered the screenings and taken part in the educational workshops and seminars. Contacts to the schools and cooperation with the national network of the Finnish film educators have throughout the years been one of the strongest point of the organisation. Through the experience as a festival director as well as a teacher, Mia Vainikainen has very good knowledge of the Finnish school's curriculum, good contacts in the field as well as skills to communicate importance of the project to different entities. Espoo Ciné IFF is also well known for it's high quality of the films selected for the festival's programme and the same label will be an important addition when marketing Wrap! in Finland. 

4. Catalonia: PLAY Acció Cultural

Contact: Javier Garcia Puerto, Director

PLAY Acció Cultural organises REC International Film Festival of Tarragona which is one of the most distinctive film events in Spain, with its focus on new directors and new creative trends in cinema. During over ten years it has been discovering the best film debutants worldwide, making an accurate overview of the first feature film by the end of year. Film Literacy activities are key for REC, involving filmmakers and guests with audiences, students (both from College and high schools). Recognised by both audience & professionals (media, young filmmakers and distributors), REC is moving its special curated programmes, sharing contents with the most prestigious cinematheques and cultural centres in Spain. 

5. Scotland: Scottish Film Education

Contact: Louise Acheson, Scottish Film Education Coordinator

Scottish Film Education has been established to develop the ambition, engagement and participation of young people and education partners in film and the moving image in Scotland.

Their emphasis is on developing visual literacy in support of more traditional literacy, through curriculum and educator development within primary, secondary and tertiary education.

6. Norway: Norwegian Film Institute

Contact: Stig Andresen, Audience Department

The NFI provides support for Norwegian Films, televisions series and electronic games, and organises training and talent development in the sector. The Film Institute represents and informs about Norwegian film on the national as well as on the international level.  Through their website, the Film Museum, and exhibitions in the Film House the NFI protects and disseminates knowledge of and understanding of the Norwegian film heritage.

Did you have any previous relationship with your partners before getting together in the project?

Solely with the Norwegian Film Institute, with their international department; we work together very closely with them for the Industry part of the festival, Cinekid for Professionals. They are partner in the talent development programme Cinekid Script LAB and send a producer delegation annually to our industry event.

Does your association belong to any international network for film literacy or audience development? What functions do you think international networks should cover?
We are part of:
- CIFEJ: World Children’s Film Network
- ECFA: European Children's Film Association
- Associate to the World Summit of Media for Children and Young People
Networks like these offer new ways of co-operation and promotion within Europe in the fields of production, festivals, distribution, exhibition and film education between their members and beyond.

THE PROJECT

What are the main issues of the project related to film literacy (e.g. circulation of films, methodological framework, workshop with young audiences, etc.)?
The heart of the project is two-sided:
1) Reaching out to a large audience with educational screenings
2) Accompanying the films with the right materials to get children acquainted with special, good quality children’s films and teaching them to watch the films with a certain view. Sometimes this concerns the way in which the film is made (think of special animations, or for example narrative techniques), sometimes this focuses on the subject/theme/relevance.

We have evaluated the educational materials of the past editions and actively gathered feedback and discussed with all partners if it suits their expectations. Partners stated the basic grid is a good starting point but was often only used as an inspirational document for local authors of learning materials. It was often not possible to copy materials one on one because of differences in schooling systems, in class technical resources and country specific circumstances. During several meetings we have discussed new and innovative ways of learning methods and tools that can be useful for all partners. Cinekid produces and distributes the basic grid with general and media educational themes, synopses and suggestions for film literacy activities and exercises for each film via the WRAP! website. It’s an innovative online toolkit to be used locally. Each country can decide for themselves which topics they want to in- or exclude from the toolkit, depending on the cultural environment of the country and the learning system in the country.

As for circulation, we see that online screenings in classrooms are asked for more and more but in the beginning we really had to promote this. 

What is the project about and what is it aimed to?
The project has different aims:

1)     Audience development: getting children acquainted with the diversity of good quality European films

2)     Film literacy: teaching children on film

3)     Building a strong European film literacy network

Via the Wrap! project we reach new young European audiences and we are creating a catalogue of European films for children, with accompanying educational materials. This  includes translation in the wider and more literal sense (for example, films  need to be dubbed or subtitled in many different languages), and having the European film industry on board to recognise the potential to reach new young audiences, and to help them develop into long-term audiences with a taste for subtitled European films which will empower the European film industry.

The main objective of the project is to select films that reflect Europe’s cultural heritage and diversity that provide a window into Europe, giving them pictures and sounds they would otherwise not (or rarely) have access to, and also function as a mirror, reflecting characters that children can identify with, despite the difference in culture, background, or language.

By making European children’s films more accessible, we want to share the simple, but often unrecognized value of film as an entertainment and art form that can give all children a shared, immediate and easy access to another European culture. Especially in countries, where children are not used to seeing subtitled films, it is crucial to get children accustomed to watching films with subtitles (after a while children often forget that there even are subtitles, especially when the film language is rich enough to “speak for itself”).

What is the target of the project? If students are among them, what ages and/or schools level does it address to? And why did you choose the target in this way?
The target of the project are children of age 4 – 14. An important aspect of the project for all involved partners is the importance to aim this project at very young children, a group that tends to be neglected across Europe. Studies have shown that it is crucial to start audience building as early as possible. The earlier viewing tastes are nurtured and broadened, the more likely it will be that the curiosity of seeing new and different films will continue into adulthood. The more we help nurture an appreciation and taste for European films from an early age by providing new and different European children’s films, the more we will be able to help develop a new generation of audiences.

How does your project follow up an ongoing debate on film literacy as part of the wider set of audience development?
Most partners now work closely with their national film clubs or with online platforms that bring the films to the classroom. I.e. Cinekid partnered up with ‘De film vandaag’ (The Film Today) an online platform solely available for teachers and only during school hours.  We made the films and learning materials available for a certain period of time and this reached a lot of children in year 3 (7,900 children).

Further to it we stimulate the partners to train themselves in the ‘film literacy arena’. I.e. Cinekid stimulates age classification courses amongst all partners and we invite experts in the field of media literacy to share their experiences with the partners/beneficiaries at the expert meetings at the different festivals. Cinekid hosts an annual media literacy seminar for which the partners are invited to get inspired and network with professionals in the field of media literacy.

POLICIES

According to you, what is the role of film literacy in the wider European cultural policy framework?
21st century skills
Film literacy is an integral part of the discussion of the ‘21st century skills’; how do we prepare our children for the world they will be a part of in the future.
Media in all sorts of forms is getting more and more available to children, it’s important that children learn how to watch, interpret and understand the enormous amount of audio visual content.  And since they are becoming more and more part of media themselves; as viewers, as commentators and sometimes even as producers themselves, we cannot leave this subject untouched within our educational systems. Film literacy in this light is crucial.
The rapid pace in which technologies are evolving and changing have huge effects on our cultures and relationships. At the same time a divide between generations is emerging because of this rapidly evolving media landscape. Digital natives have other relationships with media than millennials and older generations. Children today are consuming, creating and dealing with media in other ways, we need to adapt to that. Educators have a responsibility to explore strategies to reconnect generations and understand the future generations wants and needs.
These wants and needs are especially important concerning media (literacy) education. Children have to be prepared for technologies and jobs that don’t exist yet today. We have to make sure that children can cope with today’s media, while preparing for the future without losing the connection with other generations. Which skills and tools do they need and how can or should educators in the media industry contribute?

Cultural education
On a global scale we see a trend of growing nationalism and fear of cultures ‘from the outside’. Fear of extremists is projected to population groups as a whole. The only way to get this development to reach a halt is to actually make contact with each other, and show that people from all over the world are the same, no matter of cultural differences. Good quality children’s films can make this connection. They give children a view on the world. And it shows them that children from different countries, speaking different languages and having different habits, struggle with the same problems and issues.

How do you think film literacy could be fostered in EU zone?
Stimulating content: good quality children films and the circulation of these films, which means investment in dubbing and subtitling. Stimulating a network of parties involved in film literacy throughout Europe, for  sharing knowledge and experiences. Stimulating innovation and new ways of accessibility throughout Europe.

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