Getting Critical with the Critical Group

For our Framework Seminar discussions, devising working groups around the 3 Cs – Critical, Cultural and Communication – was a useful way of focussing our diverse and often dizzying ideas.

The Critical Group, calmly steered by Ian, ventured into territories both familiar and uncharted. Were we critical? Definitely. Informed? We believe so! And passionate in our criticisms too. But what would the Critical aspect of a proposed Framework look like? How would we define critical? Did it have to be judgemental? Was the emphasis to be on process or end-product? Were we obliged to make it competencies-based when, as a group we (more or less) agreed that a ‘find the close-up’ approach was not desirable. Instead we favoured encounters with film that would prompt a How and Why. Critical encounters involved providing access to a wide range of film (including – but not only – European, given that audience development was a Creative Europe concern). Critical acknowledges pleasure as a valid aspect of the cultural encounters and the fact that film, unlike any other area of the curriculum, was an artform of which learners all had some experience by the time they arrived at school. And yet, were we simply to give learners what they would enjoy? Or what they would choose to watch? Was it to be Kurosawa or the Fast and the Furious for all? Heated discussions ensued and, despite differences of opinion, we all agreed that a framework should aim high. The artform was paramount, and film heritage too; the encounters – be they mediated through discussions/introductions/workshops – or just standalone should, where possible, take place in a cinema, within optimum viewing conditions. As film educators we disputed the notion that people watched passively. We agreed that foregrounding the artform at its best should be at the heart of the framework. From several different countries, over two consecutive days, our different voices, backgrounds and film education experiences combined to make the experience one that was, in many ways, critical.

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