The media arts, including film, are more important than ever before in the media-rich world of the twenty-first century. Just as we believe young people should be educated in the fine arts, music, literature and theatre, so they should be educated in these newer art forms, and learn to represent themselves and their world through film.
Governments around the world have universally seen education about film culture and heritage as a good thing. Yet little is invested in it either in funding or in curriculum time. Nevertheless, film educators have worked for many years to build on young people’s interest in this important medium, both by watching and analysing film and by making it, preparing the audiences and film-makers of the future.
Alongside this international effort, the research community has worked to understand how young people engage with the moving image, what new meanings they can make with it, how it fits with their wider cultural landscapes. Yet no international journal so far has represented this work, at least since the demise of the journal Screen Education in the 1980s.
Now, UCL IOE Press is launching the Film Education Journal. It will be a fresh outlet for research in film education, as well as for interdisciplinary dialogue between educators, researchers, and film-makers, at a time when, despite the importance of digital games and social media, we know that film and television remain abiding favourites with young people. The Institute of Education has a long history of involvement with this work. And we have worked in partnership with the British Film Institute on our Media MA – along with other research and teaching projects.
However, the new journal recognises that film education reaches far beyond formal education. The launch issue contains examples of working with film in early years settings and care homes, as well as more conventional settings.
Several articles engage with the proposals made by French film educator Alain Bergala in The Cinema Hypothesis. Bergala presented his ideas last year at a British Film Institute (BFI) conference, arguing that young people should be inducted into a passionate engagement with film through contact with film artists and film-making. The debates in the journal largely endorse his views. My own contribution recognises the value of his approach, while also making the case for a greater appreciation of popular cinema, and of the nature of convergent media – the way film, television, videogames and social media are brought into ever-greater proximity in young people’s lives. (The image above is a screengrab from an animation made by a group of 11-year-olds and shows how these young people draw on their videogame culture to develop film narratives.)
The Film Education Journal is launched today at an international conference at the University of Edinburgh. The Film Education Journal is a bi-annual, open-access, peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education, in partnership with the British Film Institute, Creative Scotland, Centre for the Moving Image and Transgressive North. The inaugural edition is now available online here and more information about the journal is available here.