– Young people and film lovers from 20 different countries participated in a hybrid event and discussed important issues such as diversity, gender representation and racism in film
The European Film Academy reinforces its initiative to promote European cinema and culture among young generations using the European Film Club programme as one of its most important means. The Film Club sums up its objectives as follows: “The European Film Club aims to be a film platform and film club network across the continent for young people to come together to watch and discuss European films and make their own. Co-created by young people, it will build a diverse catalogue of films chosen by young people and build a love of European film for the next generation.”
To prepare the engagement and the content of the programme, several brainstorming sessions with international players have been organised since 2020. After a first edition last year, this year again the EFA organised with the Young Audience Summit a more extended event that allowed to discuss in depth some of the topics that are important to the youth. It took place in Berlin on 19 June as a hybrid event and was broadcast live from the Film University Konrad Wolf in Babelsberg. Eleven members of the Youth Council of the EFA hosted it and a total of 70 young people from over 20 countries joined them online.
The focus was on the theme of representation and how European film reflects and represents young people, shapes identity and a sense of European culture. Questions of diversity, sexism and racism were discussed using as examples two short films. The films were the documentary Meryem by Kurdish-Dutch filmmaker Reber Dosky, who follows women soldiers against ISIS in Syria and The Long Goodbye by British director Aneil Karia and rapper Riz Ahmed (Mogul Mowgli [+see also:
interview: Bassam Tariq
film profile]), telling the story of a paramilitary group that assaults and kills members of a migrant neighbourhood.
The reactions to the films were multiple and intense. The stereotyping of female roles, the importance of feminist films and damaging expectations of motherhood amongst other aspects were one level of argumentation, as some of the testimonies show: “In many films that present a strong woman, in the end she falls for someone and gets married… they don’t let a single movie finish with a strong woman following her career, she always has to meet a man,” says Zoe from Greece, or “women don’t have to be mothers, housewives or anything but then why are they portrayed like this in most films? There is such a small number of films that show strong women and powerful women. With the current progression that we’re seeing as a society, I personally really expected to see a lot more feminist movies,” comments Raluca, from Romania.
From these and other statements it became clear how aware young people are of the important social issues of our time. They show a will to participate in the public debate and wish to find them and their world in the stories that are told in films. One of the participants, Sanya from Italy, said: “In the world, there are lots of untold stories because we think there are things that are negative. Instead, they are our story, everything about us is part of us and can make us think about our future.”
As cheesy as it sounds, these young people are literally our and European cinema’s future. They are part of the audience storytellers will have to convince and through them, cinema will develop and grow. It will therefore certainly be essential to listen to their needs and inputs. One tool they already use actively to express themselves is the Young Audience Award, which chooses three winning films a year. Last year, the award went to Pinocchio [+see also:
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile] by Matteo Garrone, The Crossing [+see also:
interview: Johanne Helgeland
film profile] by Johanne Helgeland and Wolfwalkers [+see also:
film profile] by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. One can be curious about the decisions for this year.