St Margaret’s Withern Wink Murder

Exercise 1 from St. Margaret’s deserves a post of its own.  Headteacher James Siddle has been in the programme for a few years.  For Exercise 1 though, he hd to leave the group to go to a meeting, and left them in the care of another teacher, with no film background.  The children decided to film a game of ‘wink murder’ as their Lumiere Minute on play; they shot the game a number of times, from different positions, including one with the murderer behind the camera.  When they played the sequences back, they chose this one, because it gave the audience a clear view of what was happening.

Whether deliberately chosen or not, the sequence is beautifully compatible with a number of aspects of cinema: film is based often on the ‘interplay of looks’ – those gazes and glances between characters that we draw inferences from.  Wink Murder is premissed on the same set of exchanges, making it a very cinematic game.

But more than this, the point of view of the camera encourages the viewer to do more than watch: we become players in the game, actively following the looks between participants.  This was the case in Brussels, when even those in the cinema who didn’t know the rules were busy actively interpreting the game: it’s play that we all joined in with.

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Comparing Exercise 1 in Brussels

On 25 Feb around 25 of the participants in this year’s project spent the day at the Cinemathek in Brussels, generously hosted by Freddy Malondo, to share Exercises 1,2 and 3.  We had St Margarets Withern and Legsby from Lincolnshire; Granton PS from Edinburgh; Romain Rolland HS from Paris; and colleagues from schools in Lithuania and Brussels.

We picked out a selection of Exercises from each section to host here – to compare and contrast with work going on elsewhere.  For some reason – maybe because we all met up the night before, or the sessions were in English and French, or because we had more time – it was the probably the most relaxed and productive ‘bilan’ many of us had been on.

The first examples are of Exercise 1: to take one or more ‘Lumiere Minutes’ of examples of play – real play, in the wild, as it were.  Not everyone was able to film play in school – if your in an after school setting, chances are you’re the only children on site.  Children were encouraged to film play at home, indoors, on phones.

These two examples are from Granton primary school in Edinburgh, and Jono Biliuno Gimnazija, in Anyksciai, Lithuania.


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Romain Rolland Exercise 2

Sarah and Nora, teacher and film-maker at Romain Rolland HS in Paris, helped their group of 16 and 17 year olds with this piece as one of their Exercise 2s.  Sarah teaches them film for 5 hours a week, a couple of hours of which are spent following CCAJ.  This sequence is based on Clement (the director)’s little brother playing with a toy helicopter and making the noises out loud.  The group included sound effects and music (from Kill Bill, to mirror the references in gesture) as an expression of the imaginative world the girls create – which is then burst by their third friend coming into the room.

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Little film about CCAJ..

The multi talented Dr. Carol-Mei Barker, in her role as co-ordination of the Childhood Cinema Nation network, made this short interview with me about CCAJ, and edited it to make some kind of sense.

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Play, Vittoria PS

Katy Jones at Vittoria Primary has given us permission to share some of her pupils’ play exercises – a mixture of Lumiere Minutes Exercise 1, and Exercise 2, when two children are sent out of class and have to improvise a game.


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Sample Exercises for Play

At our annual introductory training session last week, groups of 3 or 4 from our cohort of 15 teachers tried out exercises 1, 2, and 3 for the ‘Play’ theme.  All of the pieces were planned and shot in 15 minutes..

One group went outside BFI to the river, following the brief from Exercise 1 to find examples of people playing.  They were pleasantly surprised at how.. playful people are; they didn’t have to look far.  of course, the subjects of the film (pretty much a Playful Lumiere Minute) played up to the camera..

Another group followed Exercise 2: ‘take on the roles of two naughty children who have been sent outside the classroom, have found a small space to sit down in, and innovate a game out of whatever is to hand.’  We liked the variety of angles used in the film, and the way they withold some of the offscreen action.  And those last two shots, starting with the setting down of the cup in extreme foreground..

And finally, a more extended piece that leads to Exercise 3, in which the film-maker must reproduce the sensation of dizzyness or vertigo in a character..

Well done, and thank you, Joe, Carly, Michelle, Hilary, Martin, Jo, Dan, David, Michael, Stephi, Seb, and Katie!

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2016/17: Le Jeu/ Play

This year’s theme examines the many dimensions of Play in cinema.  Alain Bergala, programme advisor, says cinema is essentially a playful mode, and he set out a set of characteristics of ‘play in cinema’ at the launch training event in September.  The typology, and associated clips are on the Powerpoint presentation below.  If the links to films don’t work, the Vimeo playlist of extracts can be found here: and the password is ‘play’.  Some of the clips aren’t suitable for primary aged children, as in really unsuitable, so make sure you watch anything before showing it.

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