An Educational Adventure
by Nathalie Bourgeois
Created in 1995, Cinema Cent Ans De Jeunesse offers an experimental cinematic training which cultivates ways of seeing, married with the experience of creative expression. Each year it sets up training groups in schools and extracurricular environments where young people get the chance to work with practitioners of film craft on a regular basis.
The project takes place throughout the whole school year. Workshops take place in schools, middle schools and high schools and are lead jointly by a teacher, or teaching team and a filmmaker.
A Cinematic Question, Rules of the Game
The project’s originality lies in its definition of a framework of approach to a specific ‘question of cinema’ and the formulation of rules of the game to address this ‘question’, developed in consultation with its international partners. Regardless of age or location all the participants work on the same question, unifying their investigations, leading to a discovery of cinema. Previous topics for investigation have included: Colour; point of view; hidden / shown and camera movement. Paying specific attention to one detail of cinematic craft, such as those mentioned above, and being mindful of the interplay of the other elements of cinema with which it comes in to contact, we invite the participants to enlarge their approach to cinema. After viewing films in cinemas and having analysed pre-prepared clips on the topic the participants perform individual filmmaking exercises. It is only when everyone in the group has worked their way through the challenges of the exercises proposed that the whole group begins to work towards its collective film, following the simple story areas outlined in the final exercise.
Exchanges and Meetings
by Alain Bergala
The teaching of cinema in France has a long and rich history. This exceptional tradition is due to a series of specific and unique political and historical reasons. It has grown and developed through various cultural movements in the post war period, such as the People & Culture and Work and Culture initiatives, the very successful Ciné-clubs during the glorious thirties and, through popular demand, from the 1970’s when cinema made its first steps in to the school and extracurricular system, even if that has experienced its highs and lows.
The Cinémathèque Française, as a repository of cinematic memories, which also celebrates cinematic culture, has become the contemporary torchbearer for this long tradition. Born inside and, indeed, outside the walls of the Cinémathèque in 1995, Cinéma, Cent Ans De Jeunesse was intended, from the outset, to be an focused and exemplary progressive research into cinema. The aim of the project is to explore a generalized cinematic teaching model, which has been refined from year to year over the last fifteen years. It is now growing from strength to strength in countries that have an expressed desire to explore cinema in a school context, including: Catalonia, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Germany and others.
My own involvement in this project, since its inception, has been my principal touchstone of reference when thinking about new models of cinematic education in line with the Arts in Schools initiative started by Jack Lang, in his role as Minister for Education in the early 2000’s. The project operates as a self motivated study group with an ongoing exchange of perspective between its participants - teachers and cinema professionals - who have developed specific and rigorous approaches to the work. The rigour proposed by the project is more necessary than ever, as cinematic education has seen a sharp decline in the place of National Education, as it has come under threat from the over reliance on ‘gadgetry’ and poor or wasteful practice allow people to play at making films, with no real sense of rigour. With today’s digital cameras we can film, with ease, anything at all in any way we please. Just because a film is made using such equipment, with such immediacy doesn’t mean that the young people who may make such a film will have had a true experience of the power of cinema. The experience of making cinema and the impression it leaves on young minds is what counts most of all.
The process of opening up cinema for young people requires careful thought by adults who actively engage with, and are passionate about, cinema. The strength of Cinéma, Cent Ans De Jeunesse lies in a joint conception of cinema, the acknowledgement of the importance of passing it on, and in carefully scrutinised and developed methods of work which are then distilled in to a readily accessible approach for others to use. It is this approach that has allowed people in other countries, passionate about spreading the craft and appreciation of cinema, to feel supported in their desire, sufficiently reassured by our framework of approach and methodology to allow them to plunge headlong in to the adventurous nature of the project.
If I had to choose only one of the points that make Cinéma, Cent Ans De Jeunesse an exemplary project, it would have to be the act of ‘making’. Making something as a practical form of cinema, a conception of cinema. Of equal importance is the use, throughout the course of the year, of film clips from across every era of world cinema. The screening of these film clips is a cornerstone of the approach to the project, allowing us to reflect on the questions that we ask and are asked, the problems that we encounter, much like the filmmakers may have encountered themselves in the making of their own films. This is the best way to resist the ongoing rise of gadgetry in film making. Seeing the films that our participants have made at the end of the year, makes you realize the incredible appetite and intelligence with which the students have assimilated some of the film clips. The clips allow them to question their own taste and engagement with what they are seeing, whilst prompting them to think about their own practice. We are miles away from the cold, thoughtless replication of a model. We are, in reality, at the heart of an act of creation.
1995 marked the centenary of the invention of the Cinematograph by the Lumiere Brothers.
At the start of the project there was a desire from certain film practitioners, teachers and institutions to develop a system of teaching cinema which developed the basis of a cinematic regard alongside the practical experience of creating films.
Three archival centres, Le Cinémathèque Française, L’Institut Lumière and La Cinémathèque de Toulouse and one cinema, L’Eden-le Volcan in Le Havre came together to create a project called le Cinéma, Cent Ans De Jeunesse, which was included in the Premier Siècle du Cinéma initiative.
The founding members of the project were: Alain Bergala, Nathalie Bourgeois, Carole Desbarats, Ginette Dislaire, Thierry Frémaux, Béatrice de Pastre and Catherine Schapira.
The first workshop groups took place throughout the 1994-95 school year, in 4 regions of France. From this experience was born the film Jeunes lumières [Young Lumieres], which was presented at the Cannes Festival in 1995 and then shown at various other festivals and cinematheques.
The film brought together 60 Lumiere Minutes, sourced from 300 films made by children and adolescents on Super 8 in their workshops throughout France. It was co-directed by Nathalie Bourgeois and Valérie Loiseleux (60’, 35mm, France, 1995, a co-production between Cinéma, Cent ans de Jeunesse and Agat Films & Co.).
The project becomes a permanent fixture. The Cinémathèque Française funds and coordinates the project, developing its education and outreach work for young people in doing so. From 1996 – 2005 several regions of France come on board the project, some staying for the whole journey, others dipping in and out.
Cinéma, Cent ans de Jeunesse opens up to European partners, with the addition of Spain and other Mediterranean nations, soon to be joined by other Western European countries, then Northern nations and finally central Europe and Eastern European countries.
The project becomes international and develops in to Latin America, in Brasil, Cuba and Mexico. French territories come aboard with the addition of the French Antilles.
The Cinémathèque Française, by way of Cinéma, Cent ans de Jeunesse, takes part in new European projects, receiving the support of Europe Creative – Framework for Film Education / CinEd / Inside Cinema.
The total number of participants from France and the partner nations across the project is close to 3000 students. Each year a quarter of the groups meet together at the Cinémathèque Française -1000 students and a hundred teachers and cinema professionals.
Topics previously explored as part of the project
The Lumiere Tendancy / The Méliès Tendancy
Agencies and Bodies which have participated in Cinéma, Cent ans de Jeunesse :
Germany : Deutsche Kinemathek-Museum für Film und Fernsehen and Arsenal-Institut für Film und Videokunst, à Berlin, University of Brême
Requests to take part in Cinema Cent Ans de Jeunesse can come from teachers, directors and members of cultural organisations, such as cinemas, associations, festivals, resource centres, national cinema centres and Instituts’ Français, amongst others.