An initiative of the EU MEDIA Programme with the support of the Italian Government Since 1992 MEDIA Salles has been promoting the European cinema and its circulation at theatrical level
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Euro: Vision
Bringing European film to Irish Schools

Cinema-going in Ireland
Ireland has one of the largest filmgoing populations in Europe, coming second to Iceland with an annual attendance of 4.4 times per annum. In Dublin city centre alone, there are some 28 screens, with 6 multiplexes situated in the suburbs and more planned. There is certainly plenty of opportunity to go to the cinema, yet a glance at any cinema listing will reveal that despite the number of screens, there is little chance to see anything other than Hollywood product.

Promoting film culture
The Irish Film Institute based in Dublin's cultural quarter, Temple Bar, aims to promote film culture in Ireland. To this end it operates two cinemas belonging to the Europa Cinemas Network, the national film archive and an education department. Films shown include foreign language titles, independent productions, documentaries, repertory and national film festivals. The education department is dedicated to bringing this programme to a wider audience. The remit of the schools section in particular is as follows:

  • To give young audiences access to a wide range of non-mainstream film including foreign language titles;
  • To encourage their development as critical viewers of film
  • To raise awareness of Irish film and the Irish film industry

Film and School
The schools department targets its audience through the mainstream school system. This audience has proven to be the most consistent and easily accessible. Twice yearly a programme of film and film related events is mailed out to all schools in the country and other named contacts. These contacts also receive flyers and information of special events - such as free preview screenings - throughout the school year.

Although it is widely acknowledged that film is the most popular medium among young audiences, it is not regarded as a subject in its own right in the Irish school curriculum. At primary level it appears in the visual arts area of the syllabus and children are also encouraged to be critical viewers of media. At secondary level, film appears in the English syllabus, to be compared with a written text. Film also has a place in the art and music syllabi. Alongside these areas, in the schools dept. we recognise the need to promote visual literacy among young people so that they can become critical viewers and are enabled to make informed choices from the range of media available.

Screening European Film for Schools
Given the demands of the school timetable, teachers are limited in the number of occasions they can bring their classes to the cinema or to film related workshops. Therefore, we endeavour to make our film programme as relevant to the school curriculum as possible to facilitate their coming out of school. In this regard, some of our most successful events are the European film screenings. These have particular relevance for language students. All secondary students and many primary learn a European language and teachers recognise the potential for language learning from viewing a film in the target language. Film offers cultural insights as well as oral and aural stimulus.

Our German, French and Spanish film programmes are particularly popular. Each year we choose a new title in these languages to screen here in Dublin and then at venues around the country. These venues comprise arts centres, an independent cinema, and commercial cinemas. We create detailed study guides to accompany the films, with previewing and post viewing activities. Our German language film project is now in its 7th year and this year we showed Good Bye Lenin at 24 venues, to a schools' audience of over 4,000. We operate on a not-for-profit basis, but try to keep the ticket price to students to a minimum to cover costs. Our studyguides are available to teachers and can also be downloaded free from our website

These guides are created around several principle themes of the film, which are also fundamental to the language syllabus eg. family, friendship, growing up etc. Language activities are developed around these, keeping with the structure of the film itself. Although the films are shown in subtitles, even when students are resistant to these - as English language speakers often are - the key to comprehension is the fact that the film reveals its story through the international language of film.

There is a concern that film is often only used in the school curriculum in an instructive way - in other words film can be used in the science lesson or the history lesson. Film is rarely seen as an art form in its own right and it is this that we attempt to address by showing complete films and encouraging students through discussion, worksheets and follow-up talks, to appreciate and enjoy the film in its own right. The key to our programme is that films can be enjoyed - not endured - so we bear this in mind when selecting our titles.

Irish Film
Another aim of our programme is to raise the profile of Irish film. For every Intermission - a big box office Irish film hit - there are several other smaller films that do not get a wide release or have a very limited run. By showing these films and by bringing in film practitioners to engage with a young audience, we endeavour to give students access to the industry, raise its profile and also stimulate interest among potential students of film.

Building a future audience
On a recent visit to Ireland, the director of Europa Cinemas, Claude Eric Poiroux remarked that, given the resources and the intention, audiences will respond positively to European films. The IFI Schools programme is proof of this, with schools coming to our events each year. It is our aim that these experiences will encourage students to become adult members of IFI. As visually literate adults, they will be able to make informed decisions about what they are viewing and what they have access to view.

Alicia McGivern
Senior Education Officer
Irish Film Institute

June 2004