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LUX Prize at Ciné Lumière - a celebration of European youth on screen a guest article by Nicolas Raffin

30/01/2018

Nicolas Raffin has written a guest article on his organisation of "Are the kids alright? A celebration of European youth on screen" with the screening of the winner of the 2017 Lux Prize Sami Blood and the participation of Julie Ward MEP as well as the organisation of filming workshops with young people.

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Are the kids alright? was an event held at the Institut Francais Ciné Lumière on the 12th and 13th of January 2018. Subtitled ‘A celebration of European youth on screen’, and supported by the European Parliament’s Lux Prize, it involved thirteen volunteers, aged between 12 and 15, from the Alec Reed Academy, Northolt, UK. All the volunteers participated in four film programming workshops and curated two distinct European-shorts programmes.

The screening was introduced by Julie Ward MEP (Labour, North West), known for her engagement in the promotion of European culture. She highlighted cinema’s crucial role as a unique form of expression which elevates European culture beyond geographical and economical borders. Her presence and constant engagement is a testament to the willingness of many British people to embrace a common and shared European culture.

Julie Ward MEP
Julie Ward MEP

The workshop participants fluently articulated ideas about the moving image during the short discussions following each screening. Understanding a film’s storyline and the relationships between the characters seemed for them to be a natural thinking process. They also demonstrated a genuine ability to understand and deconstruct the filmmaker’s intentions both on a formal and an emotional level.

It begs the question then as to whether or not the film industry itself categorises ‘foreign-language films’ as, by default, unsuitable for young audiences. The distinction between English and foreign-language content might be a matter of production: most big budget films and series are produced in English, and that is what young people tend to watch. We know that the ripest time for people to garner interest in foreign-language films is their teenage years, and with evidential lack of exposure to them, it is clear that whole generations of people have missed out.

A striking example of this is Sami Blood. Screened on the closing night of the event, this coming-of-age film was co-produced by Sweden, Norway and Denmark, winning the Lux Prize in 2017 and with its critical success, no doubt entered into the canon of European cinema. However, the fact that this film has yet to find any distributor in the UK could suggest a certain reluctance to foreign-language cinema be it on behalf of the industry or the audiences.

Only a few national governments have made film education part of the formal education. The local, regional, national and European cultural institutions are therefore even more essential. Now is the opportune time to find creative ways to involve teenagers with foreign-language films. The success of Are the kids alright? albeit on a local scale, indicates genuine interest from people of all ages for the attempt of bringing the richness of European cinema to UK screens.

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The workshop participants from the Alec
The workshop participants from the Alec