“Our students learn how to become professional and inspiring teachers of cinema”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Dan Geva • Founder of The Ethics Lab, CILECT, Beit-Berl College
Our conversation focused on the main learning opportunities offered to prospective students by Beit-Berl College
We had a conversation with Prof. Dr. Dan Geva, faculty member of the film department at Beit-Berl College, to discuss the main learning opportunities offered to prospective students. This Israeli institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: What is your school’s main teaching mission?
Dan Geva: Our main mission is to nurture a new generation of cinéastes du monde; filmmakers-educators. We are committed to people who want to make a change in their life, and following that, a change in the world. We grant a B.ED FA degree. Our curriculum offers a diverse collection of courses in philosophy, cultural studies and, of course, education. On the practical side, half of our program offers a neatly shaped bundle of professional training courses that encourages students to evenly master all key trades of the cinematic profession.
For us, education is a twofold concept. On the one hand education is, obviously, a discipline, in the strictest sense of the term, and our students learn how to become professional and inspiring teachers of film. On the other hand, we also passionately believe in ‘education’ in its broader Aristotelian and Rousseauean sense of lifting up the human spirit and building character. To ensure that, all our staff are not only highly qualified teachers but also active artists in their field of teaching. In fact, they are among Israel’s best filmmakers and cinematic artists. A fine model of our spirit of teaching and our educational philosophy is exemplified in the award-winning CILECT project The Ethics Lab, which embodies the global perspective of ethics, education and practical filmmaking. At the heart of the lab’s practice stands the idea of making sure that the lab’s teachings and actual research output is evenly distributed among all GEECT and CILECT schools.
Innovative ethics pedagogy is key to our perception of the graduate as a leader in the community. We train our students to become meaningfully involved social agents, through the art, craft and social responsibility of filmmaking in one’s community and beyond. We insist on continually passing a message of creative engagement both to the younger generation of students and to those they come in relation with. This commitment is our trademark.
In that spirit, The Ethics Lab cultivates and celebrates rich and fruitful relations with GEECT schools since 2016. The Ethics Lab is arduously investing these days in an exciting strategic plan designed for broad collaboration with GEECT and the entire CILECT community - a multi-year plan that intends to change the scope of CILECT’s world recognition and public awareness. GEECT, in that regard, plays a key role in the lab’s strategic view, doubly relevant with the launching of the new Horizon action plan 2021-2027.
What are the distinctive features of your study programmes? What subjects do you teach?
A key characteristic of our department is the traditional collaboration between Arabs and Jews, secular and religious students. We are one of the most diversified learning communities in Israel and, with all necessary humility and caution, assumedly in the world. For us, diversity is not a slogan or a political destiny designed to correct past wrong deeds. It is the nature of our reality, due to a complex set of historical and ideological reasons, regrettably far exceeding the scope of this conversation. I think that exchange students from GEECT would much enjoy and gain from this rich social and cultural grounds.
Another distinctive feature of our curriculum is our equally open approach to documentary, fiction and experimental filmmaking. You can find out more on our Vimeo (showcase, password: BEITBERLfilm) and our Instagram pages. The gist of our curriculum can be attributed to the fact that we are part and parcel of a vibrant Art faculty. This enables our students to enjoy direct access to a large body of courses in art, art history, art and philosophy and the philosophy of arts and art-based approaches to research and teaching. We encourage and specialise in melding the practical with the theoretical. We are interdisciplinary by nature. In relating to our practical studies, the main subjects we cover range from writing, directing, actors-guiding, photography, cinematography, videography, editing, plastic arts and video-arts.
Do you provide any scholarships?
We are part of the Erasmus programme so, in effect, we are ready to welcome any GEECT students. If the student arrives from a non-EU country we are capable of facilitating scholarships from local grants that support international exchanges.
How should students prepare for the admission?
For students to enrol in our programme, they must have finished their freshman year. We treat applications on an individual level. Famous for our warm hospitality and personal caring service and communication, we welcome students to contact us. To the question, “would I be obliged to study courses in education?”, the answer is “no.” One would not have to mandatorily take courses from the bundle of “Education.” We are ready to make most of our courses native English, following the example of The Ethics Lab course now active in both its Hebrew and its English versions.
How are you adapting teaching and other study activities owing to the pandemic?
The COVID-19 period was, like for all academic institutions, challenging and rewarding at once. We managed to run some practical courses in small groups and the majority of the classes on Zoom, like everyone else. Today Israel is in a very good position after a massive national vaccination programme, so we can see a comeback to the campus in the near future. In any case, we are prepared to meet any new challenges.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Atmosphere is a much mentioned word. I think we have created a very special one, starting with the campus’s countryside location. In addition, we offer a caring, approachable administration and a thoughtful, supporting academic staff – together we are proud of the pleasant learning and life atmosphere we have been carefully nurturing for decades. We invite you to come and see for yourself.
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