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Classic Movies Educating Finnish Youth

Young people in Finland are getting an education in classic movies in accordance with French film pedagogy. Schools implementing the film education project IhmeFilmi (WonderFilm) hope to create to become a critically-minded audience for film among young people.

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) ja Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) eivät saa toisiaan Casablancan lopussa. Image: YLE

Students aged 15-18 in more than 30 towns have been given the opportunity to get acquainted with classic films at schools and youth clubs. The IhmeFilmi project was launched by the Finnish Film Contact distribution organisation in 2009, with financing from the Ministry of Education and Culture. Project patron is Finnish filmmaker and writer Jörn Donner, who produced Ingmar Bergman's Academy Award-winning film Fanny and Alexander.

The movies are projected onto a big screen, as opposed to a television, which does not offer the same watching experience. No homework is handed out prior to the task, creating the atmosphere of freedom.

However, there is work to be done. From the 15 movies watched, students had to choose three characters and write essays about them.

The movies included, among others, classics by Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Jean Luc Goddard.

French Methods

The teaching methods came from France. According to IhmeFilmi chairman Eero Tammi, the godfather of this project is the French film director and critic Alain Bergala.

Creating a personal relationship with a movie is of paramount importance to the project. The students are encouraged to accept that it is not even necessary to understand what they are watching. It is also emphasised that there is no one right way to interpret a film.

The purpose of the project is not just to improve film literacy but also teaching young people to demand more from movies. According to Tammi, film pedagogy intrinsically influences what kind of films are to be made in Finland.

Finnish filmmakers are of the same opinion. Public preferences hold a large sway over what is produced.

“If young people get used to watching a wide range of movies early on, they'll also be able to demand such movies in the future,” Tammi says.

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