Discussing films in the classroom with children of different ages in Slovenia
Unveiling the View with Mirjana Borčić (Maja Weiss, Slovenija/Slovenia, 2017)
Triangulating a discussion between film, the viewer and a wider frame of life: reflections on a life in film education
Mirjana Borčić is one of the foremost figures within Slovenian film education. This article - a translation of some her writings about her experiences teaching film - contains a range of ideas on how film can be used as a tool to facilitate discussion in the classroom. Mirjana Borčić's emphasis is on making discussion pupil-centred and to encourage creative thinking.
Using films to facilitate discussion is a great way for young people to develop their reflective and analytical skills and learn to give and accept feedback from their peers in a thoughtful and sensitive way. For pupils who struggle to engage with more traditional written texts, films are a rich source of material to develop literacy skills, engage with a wide range of topics and themes, and develop their knowledge of different cultures.
‘One has to be aware that every viewer experiences a film in a unique way: a film projected in a cinema with one hundred people will have one hundred interpretations. If we want every individual to enrich their own experience of the film through contact with the experiences of their fellow viewers, a dialogue needs to be established. Discussing a film is not the same as explaining a film: it is a search for meaning that avoids generalisation and encourages creative thinking.’ - Mirjana Borčić
Key points to explore
Borčić makes several keys points and suggestions which you can read about it more detail. She emphasises that while film can be used as a text, it is important to recognise that, as a visual medium, it should not be analysed in the same way as written literature. (p.2)
In the section 'How to discuss a film' (pp.13-15) Borčić makes a number of suggestions which teachers can keep in mind when planning film discussions:
The importance of challenging pupils and asking them ‘slightly more than they are capable of’ to trigger their interest.
The value of using short films in the classroom over feature films.
Borčić breaks down the discussion process into distinct phases – the introduction, the course of the conversation, and the role of the leader as discussion facilitator.
Questioning with film within the classroom
Borčić calls for the facilitation of open dialogue with young people around film, what she calls the ‘affective method’. This can be well integrated with young people at different attainment levels, using differing questioning strategies. For example, open dialogue where students raise their hands to answer questions might be complimented by other techniques for those less confident in verbalising their thoughts, such as KWL grids or think, pair and share tasks. As Borčić states, this allows young people to ‘seek and discover the value of the film through shared impressions’.
Listen to Mark Reid (BFI, Film Education Journal) talking about Mirjana Borcic and how best to discuss film with learners with Nuria Aidelman (A Bao A Qu, Spain), Alejandro Bachmann (former head of film education, Austrian Film Museum) and Charlotte Giese (Danish Film Institute).
Ideas for the classroom and further resources
Set up a film club. This is a wonderful way to regularly discuss films with your pupils and introduce them to a wide range of cultures, topics and issues – and it’s a lot of fun too!
Scotland on Screen is the online learning resource for the Moving Image Archive. The site includes over 25 hours of footage, a step-by-step guide to moving image education, and instructions for creating your own video essay using archive film.
The CinEd collection includes 16 European films (fiction, documentaries, feature-length and short films) selected for young audiences (ages 6 to 19). The films are representative of each country in the programme and reflect the diversity and distinctiveness of European cinema. Each film has an accompanying media kit for teachers to download. https://www.cined.eu/en