14 February 2023


Autor: Natalia Spychalska

The project is co-financed by the European Union from the Creative Europe/ MEDIA programme. It is implemented by three arthouse cinemas associated in the Europa Cinemas network: Gdynia Film Centre, Kino Światowid in Elbląg and Kino Echo in Jarocin.

The innovativeness of the project lies in a new look at the young viewer – here they are perceived as a source of valuable knowledge about their expectations and needs towards cinema. Thus, we put them in the position of active participants in the process of preparing cinemas to introduce specific films to the repertoire. This is a fundamental change in the current situation, in which young viewers are only passive consumers of the film offer prepared for them by adult professionals who, by definition, “know better”. The aim of the project organizers is to find an answer to the question of how to talk to children and teenagers about European cinema so that it is attractive to them and encourages them to actively participate in cinema culture.

The project includes participants from three age groups: 8-11 years old, 12-15 years old and 16-18 years old. Inviting schools and cinemas to participate in the project, the organizers wanted the students to come from different cities and backgrounds, so that the results of the project were as objective as possible. The assumption of the entire project is its universality – the organizers want to share the results of the research with European cinemas associated in Europa Cinemas, and then promote the implementation of the project in other cities and countries.

Children and teenagers take part in pre-premiere film screenings organized in three cinemas, which are supplemented by meetings devoted to them, as well as thematic workshops. A variety of working methods are used during the classes, including surveys, brainstorming, artistic activities, conversations with psychologists and film educators.

The selection of the repertoire is not accidental. The organizers care about the presentation of valuable films, winners of awards at international festivals. So far, children and young people have seen e.g. the French-Belgian family co-production “Free Poly”, honored with the Crystal Bear award at this year’s Berlinale “Comedy Queen”, the drama “The Silent Twins” awarded the Golden Lions at the Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia, “Match for Everything” – a Dutch family production distinguished at the Zlín International Film Festival for Children and Youth and the French drama “Full Time”, awarded at last year’s Venice International Film Festival.

After watching the projection, the participants fill in Diaries of a Cinema Lover, talk to educators and a sociologist. The organizers want to teach them that cinema is worth talking about, listen to their opinions and compare them with the opinions of their peers from other cities.

Cinema means not only movies. Film-related workshops are also organized as part of the project.

And so, children and youth from Gdynia and Elbląg had the opportunity to participate in classes on creating stop-motion animation. During the classes, students created short animated films, the subject of which they chose according to their preferences. High school and high school students took part in a workshop devoted to film and photography, the most popular contemporary means of expression next to music, and the youngest participants of the project had a visit to the film studio of the Gdynia Film School, where they learned the art of photography with the use of short exposures.

The organizers want to show the participants that the strength of European cinema lies in its diversity, that each country creates different, characteristic films and it is worth opening up to this diversity. Through the presented films, talks after them and workshops, they want to raise important issues such as: openness to other people, acceptance of differences, curiosity of the world.

The project also has a strong research aspect – from the very beginning, the organizers have been cooperating with a sociologist who, for the needs of the project, has prepared surveys of knowledge about the film, allowing to assess the knowledge of the participants in the initial phase of the project, surveys after the film, which show what the participants think about the film they have watched. There are also observation sheets to help post-video meeting hosts pick up and lead the conversation. The reports received so far present in a very interesting way the conclusions that can be drawn from the surveys received. The comparative analysis concerns both the age group and the place of residence of the participants.

The coordinator of the project is the Gdynia Film Centre, which has been the heart of film events in Gdynia since 2015. A studio cinema is located there, in which cinema enthusiasts can watch the best film productions from Poland, Europe and the world on a daily basis. Also here are the offices of the Gdynia Film School and the Pomeranian Film Foundation in Gdynia – operating in the field of film education.