The News Lens- Learning in Film School (Collaboration between France Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée and Taiwan Fubon Cultural and Educational Foundation)
Director General of Fubon Cultural & Educational Foundation Pin Leng, the program director of the National Rolling Film School (NRFS), has been relentlessly contemplating how to handle the gaps amidst different parts of her work since returning to Taiwan many years ago. Her experience as a social worker in the US has made her keenly appreciate that involvement in the arts is an excellent way to unleash new possibilities for students and cultivate their senses. In addition, another major reason her focus when planning classes has been on arts is Taiwanese students’ unfamiliarity with the field. She said, “That’s exactly why, unlike in classes of other subjects, in art classes, students struggle to provide the ‘correct’ answer. From childhood to adulthood, we have too little exposure to the arts. But because of that, students can explore and present their true selves through different types of art projects more naturally. For students, describing a film-viewing experience is unfamiliar and challenging—so they tend to be more candid.”
New media peaked around the 2010s, with the youth able to use various tools comfortably, including smartphones, internet platforms, digital media, and social networking websites. In an era where images and videos are ubiquitous, Fubon Cultural and Educational Foundation has begun to offer courses and camps, including photography, documentary, and creative imagery production. Pin Leng and her staff’s experience of guiding and accompanying students through the process of creating a film and their examination of students’ works provide insights for actions. Adolescents tend to like funny, humorous, and consumption-focused content, which could be attributable to convenient tools and social relationships among their peers, resulting in prevalently homogeneous content and storytelling. TV shows and idol dramas heavily influence students’ works, which rarely contain substantive content or use sophisticated film language.
Pin Leng said, “All stories are the product of experience and observation. Understanding images and using them to express your views and ideas require a lot of thought. The biggest obstacle we encountered back then was adolescents’ lack of film-viewing and real-life experience. They lacked the foundation of understanding and interpreting the films to engage in meaningful discussion. Getting them to express themselves was even more challenging because they didn’t even know how to do it.” After much deliberation following the discovery of the limits of creative courses for the youth, Pin decided to step back to an earlier stage and begin with teaching adolescents to appreciate and interpret movies. At present, NRFS is still primarily operated by the foundation. Pin Leng hopes that in the future, this program will have the opportunity to be taken over by the Taiwan National Film Institute. The institute can connect with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture to leverage government-level staffing, resources, and policy authority to drive film education systematically. “Good film logic will enable viewers to develop their ability to think and interpret independently and critically. But what I care about most is identity development. I want to help children and youth digest and understand the impact experienced after watching a film. The ability to describe, analyze, and criticize films is another way to help children and youth learn about themselves. By describing what they’ve seen and how they feel, they’re working on their comprehension of themselves and their perspectives on major philosophical questions through imagery. These self-exploration, comprehension, and interpretative abilities are what Taiwanese education lacks. So when we’re discussing movies, we absolutely can’t stray from movies themselves and touch simply on superficial issues. Or we will waste the opportunity to help the youth develop these crucial abilities.”