Finding meaning in films

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Continuing from my last entry on enhancing education through stories that we can relate to, there’s an alternative other than stories: films. It’s unfortunate that most films in recent years are formulaic and hence audiences do not benefit from them as much as in the past where filmmaking has almost been respected as an art form. With the shift of emphasis away from the arts, films are now more of an entertainment outlet for consumers than an opportunity for greater understanding of life.

This is regrettable as films are first produced to provide an opportunity to enable the audience to understand life and to relate to the characters. Nevertheless, Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) and action scenes have supplanted powerful narrative and realistic acting in recent years. Formulaic films are now becoming more popular as individuals with an increased pace of life use it to de-stress. It’s fortunate that there are still directors producing quality films out there but some of these films have very short theatrical releases before they are released on VCD/DVDs, which is once again regrettable. These films are also often classified under “art house”, a genre that mainstream audience often steers clear of.

Even for individuals who love to study films, their choices are limited since film study courses are limited in schools for some countries. They are also not given enough emphasis when compared with more technical subjects such as architecture or engineering. In some countries, it’s challenging to find a diploma or degree course in film studies, unless it’s a film school. More often than not, film studies are offered as a module rather than a major in some educational institutions. Even when we compare film studies within the domain of the arts and social sciences, it pales in comparison to psychology or sociology.

It’s time that educationists (including the school administrators and principals) consider bringing films back into the classroom. It’s time to let our students realise that films is more than entertainment. It’s time that the efforts of independent filmmakers (to create a memorable story and to bring characters to life) be recognised.  Many of us have often found static photographs in the field of photojournalism impactful. With the use of moving images in films, wouldn’t the impact in educating students be even more powerful?

Films are intellectually-engaging, heart-warming and/or heart-wrenching at times. More importantly, it engages the emotional aspect of ourselves. There’s been a popular perception that movies are used as a form of escapism. I beg to differ.   On the contrary, I feel that movies provides the outlets for creative expressions by the film makers but movies are also the mirrors that learners use to further understand themselves and life itself.

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