Over a few afternoon sessions at the end of 2011 I worked with 4 particular Year 4 boys on a film review of the Japanese animation Ponyo by Studio Ghibli. We started off the project by playing with flip books and then listening to the sound on the wonderful short “Birthday Boy” (on the BFI Story Shorts 2 DVD) set in a Korean war zone; we then watched Birthday Boy intently a few times, matching sound with image. After seeing Ponyo at Rich Mix as part of National Schools Film Week, we discussed characters, setting, sound, narrative & style and compared the 2 films. They produced a considered set of thoughts and observations. They also made their own drawings inspired by Miyazaki & the Studio Ghibli animators.
The piece was entered into Film Education‘s annual ‘Young Film Critic‘ Competition at the end of 2011, but what differentiated their review was that it was collaboratively filmed, produced and edited as opposed to individually written. Film Education received over 1000 film review entries to their competition, three of which were filmed. Approaching film and literacy in this way gives these children agency to show and share their understanding in a medium with which they are familiar as well as an opportunity for interaction with a sector to which they may never ordinarily have had access.
A good film review is supposed to inform, illuminate and entertain and the children’s efforts therein were rewarded – seeing their enthusiasm and engagement, Film Education asked the boys to attend the Award Ceremony at the BAFTA headquarters in Piccadilly to accept a Special School Prize, a category that had to be created for them as there was no category for a collaborative entry in the film critic competition. Here’s the 2 minute review which they edited down from 30 minutes of material:
In my dissertation I looked at the notion of second orality and Andrew Burn’s kineikonic mode – offering a framework for understanding moving image texts – including such elements as movement, sound, speech and gesture – as well as their sites of distribution – whether that be a class of peers in Tower Hamlets or an audience of competition nominees, parents, Directors, Producers & CEOs at The Princess Ann Theatre at BAFTA. The fact of audiovisual texts begetting further audiovisual texts displayed in a multiplicity of social settings perhaps signals the resurgence of rhetoric as a must-have skill. The more we invest in digital rhetorical skill in the primary years, the better equipped our young citizens will be for social participation. See similar ideas in action in the field, in the movie + commentary here: Telferscot School Case Study.