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Filmmaking as a means for active ageing

01/10/2015
by Rumen HALACHEV
Kieli: EN
Document available also in: DE FR IT PL ES LT DA

/epale/fi/file/knowthyself3edited2jpgKnow Thyself

Know Thyself

Jennifer Granville from Leeds Beckett University shares her inspiring story about her involvement in the international CINAGE project. CINAGE offers exciting lifelong learning opportunities to older persons and promotes active ageing through teaching adults critical analysis of European cinema as well as filmmaking skills. Read how Jennifer got involved in this project, what obstacles she had to overcome, and most importantly, what she gained from this experience.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do?

I work as a lecturer at the Northern Film School which is incorporated within the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett University. One of the areas I was interested in was developing widening participation and lifelong learning. The reason for this was that we had one course within this school called Foundation Degree, but about 5-6 years ago the University stopped all foundation degrees.

It was very disappointing because it was a wonderful opportunity for non-traditional learners to come to the university and learn filmmaking, and very often a lot of our students came from that route. They tended to be older, to have more experience and that course had a very different dynamic. I wanted to try to find a way where we could use the expertise that we had in working with this sort of people.

How did you get started with your Grundtvig project?

I went to a meeting where they talked a lot about Grundtvig and about the different opportunities there might be to partner with people and develop courses for different learners. I put my name down on the list as willing to be a partner and the lead partner on the CINAGE project got in touch with me. The lead partner was a Portuguese organisation called Aid Learn who do a lot of this type of European projects. They were looking for a university who could provide them with expertise in research in health as well as expertise in filmmaking. Leeds Beckett University was ideal because we have a very large health school here as well as a film school.

We wrote the proposal together with Portugal, Italy and Slovenia and it was initially rejected but we didn’t give up, rewrote it and we got approved. I think the idea was quite appealing. To my knowledge there’s no other project that has done a similar thing with film.

How did collaborating with another organisation help?

Collaboration is always good – you’re always going to learn something from collaborating. You’re always going to approach things slightly differently once you’ve had discussions with people who bring a completely different experience. The beauty of this particular project is that Aid Learn in Portugal had quite a lot of experience in delivering that kind of projects – international projects are extremely complicated. In terms of cinema we wanted to make it truly European and not just something that we were doing in the UK.

Old age is not such a terrible thing

Also, the Third Age University of Slovenia brought an enormous amount of expertise in the field of andragogy. An interesting thing that we discovered was that most of the teaching we do is more by the students learning and finding out for themselves, which is probably quite different from how they usually teach in Eastern Europe.

Even though now we’re ready to deliver CINAGE independently, initially it was great to get a European perspective on it and to bring in that different expertise.

How do you want the project to expand?

We hope to deliver the course to older people next year as part of the University’s widening participation programme. For this purpose we’re partnering with Leeds City Council and we are using their network to pull in a wider demographic. However, through KA1 of Erasmus + we’re also planning to have a two-week ‘telescoped’ version of the course designed for European educators.

/epale/fi/file/trappedclappereditedjpgCINAGE Clapper

CINAGE Clapper

How did you stay in touch with your project partners?

All our planning and decision making was done collaboratively through robust discussions. We met mostly in person. We had a meeting in Italy and Portugal, two in Slovenia and our final meeting was in the UK. We also had a very good online environment called Wiggio which is an open source software. It was an excellent place for sharing and storing documents and sending instant messages and having discussions. That’s also where the external evaluator went to find our documents.

Who took part in the project? Is there anyone that stands out in your mind?

The average people that we had in this project were quite educated, stimulated and active and they came out the same way. But I do think that what we did learn from them is how we might approach this project better in the future. The formed an incredibly strong friendship and working group and that has gone on. We’ve already had a party at one of the participants’ house and there have been a lot of social benefits for the participants. A couple of the participants have also volunteered to help me with the dissemination of the results and that’s been really great for us.

One of the students who stood out was Liz Cashden, 86. She wrote and acted in Swimming Pool and she also directed Know Thyself, and she was just full of energy, so eager to collaborate and intelligent – a true inspiration for everyone.

 

 

What were the results?

One of the tangible results of this project has been the CINAGE pack and the Guide for Adult Educators, which we’re very proud of. We also organised a final conference as part of our approved proposal and we ran a film festival, which we’re planning to make into an annual event. We weren’t allowed to raise sponsorship for the festival this year, but next year we’re hoping get sponsorship and make it a much wider reaching festival. It is going to be a festival based on old age in the UK but we’re also going to run it as a symposium so our target groups are academics as well as film makers. Our films and trailers are also available on our YouTube channel.

/epale/fi/file/cinagewelcomepackjpgCINAGE Package

CINAGE Package

What we did this year was a screening of all the 12 CINAGE films and then in the afternoon we had a competition. The criteria for the competition were that the films either had to be about age or aging, they had to feature an older actor, or be made by an older filmmaker – these were also the three categories. We got about 50 films sent in, we screened 30 of them and we had three prize-winners.

It was an incredibly moving experience

We hope that in future we’ll try to make it even bigger. The event was supported by the Leeds City Council and we’re hoping that next time will become a part of the Leeds International Film Festival. They already have a younger persons films festival so why not an older people films festival? In fact it would be great to use EPALE as a means of publicising our project and upcoming events.

What did it mean to you to be involved?

I was involved in the making of three of the films here in the UK and we also helped in the making of the subtitles of the other films, but when we saw all 12 of them on the big screen, it was quite a moving experience. It really felt like we’d done something quite special. I also find it amazing how so many different aspects of aging were addressed in quite a positive way. They weren’t all gloomy and grim by any means.

 I’m 61 and what I got out of this experience was that old age is not such a terrible thing; and also you have plenty of time to do things that are personally fulfilling, that you wouldn’t normally have the time to focus on. Working at a film school I’m quite used to collaborating with people from different countries and cultures. What I did learn from my project partners was a lot about running a project, as all three of them were very experienced in that. Also, there’s so much that I learnt from the participants as well – all of them are such interesting individuals.

 

 

Another really great thing for me personally was the intergenerational aspect of things. When we made the films we used a lot of our students to support the older learners. Both groups were able to see how competent and good at their jobs the others were and how much they had to offer. That was an incredibly successful part of the project which I hadn’t even thought about. A lot of my students said to me afterwards that this was one of the best projects they had done since they’d been in film school – they absolutely loved it. On the UK side we had about 30 older learners and about 50 younger students altogether. We had a professional cinematographer and a director who was there as a support for the older students who were directing.

The two weeks of filming that we did were so very exciting and seeing all these people coming together as a crew will remain in me. If I had the chance, I would definitely like to do it again.

If you’re working  with adult learners and you’d like to share your story with EPALE, get in touch with us at news@epale-support.eu

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  • Käyttäjän Jolanta WOLAGIEWICZ kuva

    Wspólne tworzenie filmu było jednym z głównych rezultatów projektu partnerskiego GRUNDTVIGA, realizowanego przez Akademię plus 50 (Białystok) z partnerami z Niemiec i Turcji (organizacje pracujące z seniorami).  Podczas połączeń skypowych oprócz "szlifowania" języka angielskiego (czasem z pomocą nauczyciela) międzynarodowe grypki wybrały temat filmu, z założeniem, że różnice kulturowe mogą być powodem nieporozumień.  Stopniowo też przygotowywały scenariusz, żeby na spotkaniach partnetów dopracować szczegóły i kręcić poszczególne sceny. Żeby wymyśleć terść trzeba było najpierw nawzajem poznać zwyczaje  i ustalić różnice kulturowe. Było to bardzo ciekawe doświadczenie dla wszystkich uczestników i kadry a efekt tych działań można zobaczyć tu http://plus50.org.pl/lost-and-found/

  • Käyttäjän Jagoda Lipińska kuva

    Uważam, że to bardzo dobry pomysł na rozszerzanie idei long life learning. Uczenie i angażowanie seniorów do krytycznej refleksji nad oglądanymi filmami oraz mozliwość kręcenia swoich jest niezwykle owocne nie tylko dla ludzi starszych ale także dla młodszych pokoleń. Współpraca międzypokoleniowa to coś niesamowitego, daje wiele możliwości rozwoju nie tylko seniorom ale także ludziom młodym.

  • Käyttäjän Elena Galifianaki kuva

    Want to know more about arts and culture in adult education? EPALE is hosting Museums, Galleries and Culture Week on 15-19 February 2016 to bring together news, events, resources and discussions!

    Join us at https://ec.europa.eu/epale/node/18826 and on social media at #epale2016.

  • Käyttäjän Elena Galifianaki kuva

    Hello Dušana, Hello Teresa,

    After your latest posts, I was really intrigued about the existence of such interesting projects that use cinema as a means to educate. On a further search online for similar/related projects I also found these ones in case you were interested: (I am sure you are already aware of them but in any case just posting them here...)

    Cine-Train: Film-Making for Educators - http://cinetrainproject.com 

    CinEd: An educational program on European cinema for schools as well as training for instructors - http://www.institutfrancais.com/en/news/launch-cined-european-cinema-education-program

    Best,

    Elena

  • Käyttäjän Elena Galifianaki kuva

    Thank you Dusana,

    for all the addtional information provided. It seems that there is a lot of good work going on at the Slovenian Third Age University!

    Best,

    Elena

  • Käyttäjän DUSANA FINDEISEN kuva

    This is an interview with one of the members of  the Slovenian CINAGE focus group who is also a painter and has been teaching older people for tewnty years.

     

    Miran Erič is a painter, researcher  of  underwater cultural heritage, lecturer and  has been active at Slovenian Third Age University as a mentor of study circles of painting.  Within this university, and upon the initiative of his older students, he founded a group of  older learners-painters with an eloquent name The Turtles. He is a keen and innovative observer of active ageing, an expert of active ageing and a militant in this field. In his foreword to the monograph The Turtles, he keeps asking himself about the role of older adult education, education as an activity and a possibility for older people to progress and to be in a transformational contact with themselves and the world around them.

     

    D.F. What is active ageing is in your eyes?

     

    M.E. As I view it, it is about being able and being supported and being expected to take a transformational, a decisive role in society, communities  and in one’s individual life.

     

    D.F. You keep asking yourself why your students who over years have become  excellent and innovative painters, have exhibited their paintings in professional galleries, have acquired their own author style are still being looked down by professional circles and critics as if their creativity were less valuable than the creativity of  others, who are younger and  formally educated?

     

    M. E. I think it is all about the social construction of old age. I keep asking myself how can one be active in later life if society and culture are implicitly or overtly against one’s activity? Shouldn’t we better try to produce a strong and constant  impact on society, pushing it to change and  dismantle its stereotypes about old age?

     

    Today the visual culture has become the culture of majority

     

    D.F. You have accepted our invitation to take part in  the CINAGE  focus group. Why?

     

    M. E.  Ours is a visual society and  younger generations have been born into it. Today, at a very early age, one  starts amusing oneself producing films. One is not formally educated  to this end, of course not, but due to the fact that one has been in touch with hundreds or thousands of visual presentations, that one has been learning autonomously,  one can  tell the difference between what is  beautiful and what is not. What is more, the quantity if visual images younger people have been touch with has enabled them to develop  aesthetic criteria. This is not the case of older people who  quite often  are not that much included in this visual culture and society, or at least are less included than younger people.  Older adults have well developed cognitive abilities, therefore  they should be taught about  the visual images and their power of expression.

     

    D.F.  Will that  be enough?

     

    M. E. What I also like about the CINAGE project is that older learners will learn how to visually convey their understanding  of active ageing. They could even produce a publicity for active ageing. Now, we are all  confronted with new media, since they are at a reasonable price, and new technological possibilities. So, older people should first learn about them,  to see what they can do using  them.  And this will be the case in the CINAGE project. Therefore, I think that in our  focus group,  we should also have a  film maker, somebody who knows about how to use the film tools and technology and also for the course, there should be a film maker.

     

    D. F. How will the CINAGE project affect  the CINAGE course participants…?

     

    M. E. Well , we are all film viewers, literally all of us. Annually, we view at least from 5-10 featured films, but the participants in the CINAGE course will hopefully develop the understanding of both films and  active ageing.  This will be specific and  the course in itself will be for some of them an act of active ageing.

     

    By analogy with my students who learn how to paint  and acquire a certain ability to  look analytically  at paintings, I expect that the CINAGE course participants  will develop the understanding of  film  and of its power of expression. Study circles of painting enable their members to attribute a meaning to the paintings and the process of painting and the CINAGE course will enable the participants  to attribute a meaning to  film and cinema.

     

    Now, in  visual society  it is not enough to talk about active ageing. It is necessary to convey messages using films and other visual media. The course will enable the participants to live as film viewers or film makers like my students of painting are taught to live as  painters which is far more than holding a brush for an hour or two a day.

     

    D.F. What do you think the CINAGE course may offer to the participants?

     

    M.E.  I hope the course participants will  learn about the possibilities the new technology can offer them; the visualisation may offer them a possibility to penetrate their own psychic world and the world around them and  to better understand  beauty. They will learn about  film tools and  the contents and how they are related. The tools are important! If somebody is asked to paint he should know about the tools  needed, if somebody is asked to write, to take photos, again somebody should know how to handle the tools.

     

    D. F. What do you think about the film Good to go which you and the focus group screened when you met last Friday ?  

     

    M. W. Well, I think that we have started building together a new view of ageing. The script writer of the film Good to go is probably much younger than the featured main characters, therefore there are so  many stereotypes about old age in this film -but also active ageing competencies, of course. There is a mix of them.  For instance I can hardly believe that in reality older people are  as grumpy and grudgy as Ivan is.  In any case, I have not met anyone like Ivan so far.

     

    There is nothing like generally valid active ageing

     

    D. F. I was amazed at the dynamics of the focus group.

     

    M. E.  So was I.  I would appreciate, if we could screen more films together. What we say as a result of thinking together, could   lead to our  new understanding  of older people and their position in society. First and foremost , we should  stop thinking about active ageing in general. There is nothing like generally valid active ageing. It can be very different, depending not only on one’s social and cultural environment…  not so much on older people’s age, but mostly on their socio-economic condition, on their status, on the fact that they live alone or in partnership, are healthy or not, have children or not…work or not.  If I am a young retiree my active ageing would be different from someone’s who is not healthy… Well, I really appreciated our meeting and how the focus group is being composed and moderated.

     

    Dušana Findeisen

     

     

     

     

  • Käyttäjän DUSANA FINDEISEN kuva

    In university lifelong learning programmes (adult education ) this type of programme and projects could be used in social sciences, social work, andragogy and socio-cultural education, geragogy, developmental pyschology, filmakinng, sociology of everyday life, creative writing  etc. It could  also be used in relation to the topic of communication, emotions, stereotypes, prejudices, discrimination, older people's needs, the importance of public space in old age, active ageing public policies ( WHO OECD, European Commission)

    Elena, since you are interested about the univeristy setting, here are some  of our young facilitators impressions ( they are from the Academy of Arts, Film, Theatre and Television, University of Ljubljana.

    • Andrej Avanzo

    Looking back, now that we have accomplished the majority of our tasks, I am confident that this project has been/ and will remain in the future/ essentially a very nice experience for me. It was not about teaching how to produce films, but more about making three films together and at the same time about getting familiar with active ageing and filmmaking. As I view it, these films are valuable precisely because the process of producing them has been so special. In a way, they give currency to Zeit Geist, they are a crossing over and among generations. I am immensely happy to have been a part of everything. Thank you for the effort you put in it, and thank you for the perfect organisation.

    • Maja Križnik

    The CINAGE project has been a remarkably pleasant experience and above all, my very first experience with facilitating scenario writing. I was happy to be able to work with older people, older participants. Personally, I am very respectful of those who are more experienced than I am. We facilitators, we thought we should devise and deliver a kind of programme that would take into account their experience and would be teaching participants the basics of how to think film. I claim that it is of extreme importance to start making a film by a well elaborated scenario. At the beginning, I found it quite difficult to accomplish such a complex task of having our students write three scenarios in only two sessions! Due to our tremendously enthusiastic participants, we did it. Whatever the age of the participants, creative team work is a sensible and fragile task, and there were some frictions and tensions in our group which we managed to channel into sort of creative group dynamics. In the end, I was really profoundly satisfied with the overall process, with the fact that we did not have to face any major distractions. I do think we have done a wonderful job together. It has been very interesting to see the participants getting ever more able and qualified, reaching a high level of autonomy in shooting films. I felt most rewarded listening to them, when they were talking how they shared newly acquired knowledge with their family friends and by their being proud of their accomplishments.

    • Jerca Jerič

    I think, participating in the CINAGE project was a rather specific challenge, for I had not been working as a facilitator or lecturer before. I was most challenged by facilitating older people who were highly experienced. Due to their interest in participating in this enterprise would be quite different I thought. Yet, as we know, the overall producing a film is colourful, but we. Facilitators were confident that we would find a suitable function for each participant.

    The participants surprised me. I was surprised by their commitment and knowledge. Despite some of them had some experience with film making and felt close to cinema, there were many do did not have any relevant knowledge about film production. Those were my biggest challenge and I wanted them to be a part of the film crew. To take on a role or two, a function or more functions that are needed during the film shooting and in the preparation process. They found appropriate functions, and if they were not satisfied they could still exchange them in the next films. Each film supposed a different crew and each student could test his or her abilities in different functions

     

    Dušana Findeisen, Slovenian Third Age University

  • Käyttäjän Kirsten Mülheims kuva

    Thank you for presenting this interesting project that seems to have had a valuable impact on everybody involved!

    You offer your approach to adult education in general which makes sense to me. At the same time, being involved in research about the expansion of university lifelong learning in Germany, I would like to learn more about the special contribution of the university-context to your project. You pointed out one important aspect: that is the cooperation of young and old students.

    I would be happy to get in touch, with whoever is interested to share ideas about this aspect. 

     

     

  • Käyttäjän DUSANA FINDEISEN kuva

    Reading this interview with Jennifer, I sense that I have  had the same feeling about the value of CINAGE as she has and I also agree with Nikolai about MEMORO and the feelings he had when the project in which they sincerely believed was rejected.

    As compared  with other projects we have been involved in,  CINAGE is a wonderful project that corresponds to the basic theses about education of older people. Older people's education is established for social reasons, for increasing social fairness. So, it has a social and also political role. It has to change one's attitude towards old age, it has to create intergenerational bonds, it has to be creative, participative and has to bring back older people into the public space ( Hannah Arendt) increase their visibility. CINAGE has been all of this and more. It has made us aware ( focus groups) that our, experts', idea about active ageing is also far from reality... as the one of policy makers and filmmakers.  We have to listen to older people, they have a lot to say about themselves. For instance the majority of the films we selected for screening ere made about older people 80+ and were  made by much younger film directors  and script writers. We found  out that we do not know  how 80+ feel and think, not even talk….

    CINAGE was a great opportunity for older people to talk about their age and themselves. It also brought a lot of optimism about old age to older and younger people and it included older people into our visual civilisation.

    As far as Slovenian Third Age University we learned a lot from partners since we all had. each of us a different, but outstanding expertise.

    "Riches de cet experience" as  the French would say, we prepared a new project which is also quite innovative to my knowledge: learning from social movements and collective actions in which older people participated, that was meant to be a learning opportunity also for younger generations born into the world of global capitalism and consumerism... a lesson on how to be together versus individualism... And it has been rejected.

    From experience we can say that if the project is also about European policies, if it ensures visibility of the project and reality of European Union, it has a greater chance to be accepted. But this is not always possible. Another frustrating thing is that no matter how good you are at carrying out a project, it does not influence your credibility when a next project is at stake.

    Thank you to other contributors for notifying valuable other projects.

     

     

  • Käyttäjän Elena Galifianaki kuva

    Hi Dusana,

    You are very welcome about the "other projects" info.

    Indeed there are so many projects around the European Union that do wonderful stuff and often communities, like this one here, help members with similar interests engage, find out more about what others are doing and thus build upon previous experiences so as to create new (and improved) projects and disseminate best practices to those who need it the most.