Exploring local heritage through a documentary filmmaking project in Chile
La Pequeña Historia de un Lobo de Meta (The Little Story of the Metal Wolf)
Immaterial heritage and a sense of place in film-based art education: A case study of a documentary film project with secondary school children as part of Cine en curso Chile
Felipe Correa’s article describes the process of a documentary filmmaking project at a secondary school in Chile. Run as part of the film education programme Cine en curso, its aim was to encourage students to engage with the places, crafts and community where they live. Over the course of a year, students watched and analysed documentary films from different periods and cultures, whilst performing practical filmmaking inside and outside the school. At the end of the project, their short films (which documented and celebrated traditional local trades) were screened at a local cinema.
Watching and making documentary films is a fantastic way for educators to explore different social themes and issues with their pupils, and, as Correa says, ‘can compliment and articulate’ the learning aims and outcomes in many subject areas such as history, science, geography etc. For students who might feel intimidated at the idea of scriptwriting, documentary can be an accessible way of exploring storytelling through film and is an interesting way for them to critically examine and reflect on their own environments and everyday experiences.
Key points to explore
Correa’s article offers teachers lots of ideas about how watching and making documentaries can enhance students’ learning. Points of interest include:
The particular setting of this project within a school which ‘focuses on reintegration programmes for children and young people with learning disabilities’ as well as the pedagogical methodology behind Cine en curso (p.122-123)
A detailed description of how photography is used as a practical exercise to teach students about colour, light, perspective, framing and composition. (p.124-125)
How to prepare for the practical side of filmmaking in terms of choosing topics, discussing students’ roles, and interviewing documentary subjects (p.125-134)
A reflection on how the project increased students’ overall levels of motivation and engagement. The filmmaking process also developed their skills of observation, participation and critical analysis, as well as empathy with their documentary subjects. (p.134-135)
Watch La Pequeña Historia de un Lobo de Meta (The Little Story of the Metal Wolf), the film discussed in the article above.
Ideas for the classroom:
You can watch the final documentary, La Pequeña Historia de un Lobo de Meta (The Little Story of the Metal Wolf) made by the students above.
Discuss the following questions with your class:
What is the message of the film?
When making a documentary, what do you think are the biggest challenges for the filmmakers?
If you had the chance to make this film, what would you do differently?
Now encourage discussion of what subjects would make for good documentaries. Ask your students the following questions:
What topics from their own lives and communities would make for an interesting documentary?
What questions would they want to ask the people they would film?
What obstacles might there be to making that documentary, and how might they overcome them?