Wednesday, November 30, 2011

See • Hear • Feel • Film shines at BMFI

By Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, Bryn Mawr Film Institute

BMFI’s third-grade visual literacy program, See • Hear • Feel • Film, is off to another great start for this school year. For the fifth year in a row, we are thrilled to have students from the Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown and the Haverford School participating. Returning for their fourth year are students from the Conshohocken Elementary School in the Colonial School District, and children from the Westtown School, as well. Also returning are girls from the Baldwin School, kids from the Gesu School in Philadelphia, and students from Whitehall Elementary School in Norristown.

See • Hear • Feel • Film, created by Anne Marie Santoro of the Jacob Burns Film Center, teaches third-grade students critical viewing skills and the cinematic techniques of storytelling. Using movies to spark their own creative expression, the children learn to write with clarity, confidence, and joy, and improve their own storytelling skills. The curriculum, designed to meet the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, consists of viewing short movies from around the world and participating in writing exercises and creative collaboration.

Baldwin School students (above)
enjoyed the Unit I activities at BMFI
during a recent school visit.
Learning to think critically about visual media and understanding how filmmakers use the tools and techniques of their medium to communicate with viewers is an essential part of a 21st-century education and crucial to being an informed citizen in today’s culture. While the program focuses on cinema, the lessons gleaned from it are integral to more thoughtful engagement with other visual media, such as television and the web.

Personally, as a film educator, I can say that I wish I’d been exposed to a program like this when I was in grade school.  Thinking of the potential for more and better engagement with film and other media this program gives its participants, it’s too bad I had to wait until high school or college to begin to learn the concepts it imparts. I’ll never know what the head start on my understanding of media that a program like this gives students could’ve meant for my education and even career.

If you’d like to learn more about See • Hear • Feel • Film, please visit or contact me, BMFI’s Director of Education.

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