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UCL film education journal - FINAL (JUST

Learning from the Understanding Cinema project in Scotland


Poetic framing in Blue Raspberry

Consolidating an experimental pedagogy: Exploring ecologies of film education within France’s Cinéma Cent Ans De Jeunesse and Scotland’s Understanding Cinema project(s) between 2013 and 2019



This article provides readers with a detailed, first-hand overview of the filmmaking project Understanding Cinema. Author and filmmaker Jamie Chambers worked as a tutor on the project between 2013 and 2019 in different schools across Edinburgh and the Lothians. 


Understanding Cinema is a moving image education project based on the long running international film education scheme, Le Cinéma, cent ans de jeunesse - created by Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Groups of young people between the ages of 6 and 18 across the world to take part in a structured programme of activity, combining practical and theoretical approaches to cinema that are focused around a different topic chosen every year.  

In this article, Chambers reflects on both the highlights and challenges of the project. For teachers interested in making films, it provides a detailed account of how ‘a well-designed pedagogy’ can ‘allow simple, yet deep access to cinematic aesthetics’, as well as honest reflections on aspects of the project that were challenging to overcome.  

Key points to explore


  • The rationale behind the project and challenges of connecting it with the Scottish curriculum and available school resources. (pp. 100-103) 

  • Case studies of the topics The Long Take (pp. 104-108), Climate/Weather (pp. 108-114) and Play (pp. 114-116), and their varying levels of success in terms of student engagement and understanding. 

  • Feedback from teachers involved in the projects, sharing how they worked alongside the film tutors and how their students benefited from the project. (pp. 107, 109-110, 111, 113) 

  • A discussion of the CCAJ methodology and how it can sometimes be challenging to implement on a practical level. (pp. 116-119) 

Blue Raspberry (Law Primary School, East Lothian) 

Ideas for the classroom:


All of the films referenced in the article are available to watch online (links can be found in the article bibliography), providing a great source of materials for teachers who would like to see examples of films made by young people in schools. Have a look at our recommended films below: 


Yes Sir (Wester Hailes Education Centre, Edinburgh)

  • Age range: suitable for ages 12+ 

  • Themes/subject areas: climate and weather, school setting, secondary school, teenagers, friendship, rebellion, shelter 

  • Synopsis: Over the course of one day, we follow a teenage boy and his encounters with teachers and friends. The film was created as a response to the following exercise: Students film a short film based ‘around a love story or a friendship which contains: a shelter. The elements of the weather that you experience when filming should be perceptible to the viewer 

  • Watch here

Blue Raspberry (Law Primary School, East Lothian) 

  • Age range: suitable for ages 8+ 

  • Themes/subject areas:
    the long take, observational footage, voiceover, poetry, family life

  • Synopsis: A young girl spends her pocket money on sweets, against the wishes of her parents. This film is made up of a choice of shots from 300 minutes of minute-long observational footage. It was created as a response to the following exercise: 'A Troubling Encounter': at a certain moment a character or characters have an encounter which troubles them. 

  • Watch here 

In My World (Granton Primary School, Edinburgh) 

  • Age range: suitable for ages 8+ 

  • Themes/subject areas: play, primary school, friendship, bullying, imagination 

  • Synopsis: A young girl who is being bullied about her spelling mistakes runs out of class and hides from her classmates. The film was created as a response to the following exercise: Make a film where the story is interrupted at a certain moment, when a character finds their freedom through playing which allows them to escape from the confines of their everyday reality. 

  • Watch here 

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