Paris, March 2013: ‘bilan d’étape’ – mid-project review

March 2013 at the Cinémathèque, Paris: where several of the participating European nations involved in the project gather at headquarters to check progress at this midway juncture. There are about 30-40 teachers, film makers and Cinémathèque staff assembled in the auditorium. The UK contingent, involving projects from London, Lincolnshire and Scotland, along with the other participants, show short films resulting from the prescribed exercises for 2012-2013 around the theme of mise-en-scène.

Over the several years that BFI Education has been involved in the otherwise long standing Cent Ans de Jeunesse programme, there’s a sense of us having gradually been brought into the fold, a sense of assimilation and understanding. The fold being the uniquely French conception of what constitutes the practice of formal film making.

Here are examples of the films shown from The London Nautical School and a detailed blog outlining the nature of their film club sessions:

http://filmclub.student.edutronic.net/

On the whole these films were favourably received and Bergala, who only commented on a few of the films, liked the framing and the quality of the acting, although he took issue with certain elements of the bus stop scene claiming that the mise-en-scène failed to add to the situation. At this stage we some times find ourselves raising the issue of the intense learning that takes place in the weekly UK sessions, thus bringing the process into relief in conjunction with the end product. We also re-establish the fact that the films are entirely the students’ own work, from an incipient idea through to editing, something which is not uniformly embraced by the different groups. Friction is never too far away in this review session and it is refreshing in a way to be part of an educational programme that raises real passions about the way things could and should be done.

There was some lengthy debate over the use of popular music in the Scottish films – the issue of ‘inappropriate’ music comes up with regularity. The general feeling being that such music is distracting and unnecessary, not however in the minds of the young people who are making the films. It’s an interesting clash of cultural values which seems irresolvable unless one comes round to the French mindset. Bergala suggested that sound may feature as a forthcoming annual theme.

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