Rolling out abroad: the main concern of film schools
by Marta Bałaga
- CANNES 2017: During another discussion organised by the CNC, representatives of some of the top film schools argued how their students can prepare for the internationalisation of the film industry
The film school-orientated discussion held in Cannes on 26 May and moderated by Julie Tingaud (deputy head of International Affairs at La Fémis) provided a valuable insight into the various international activities offered to film students in France, Poland and Argentina. The participants, Claude Mouriéras (general director at CinéFabrique), Nathalie Coste-Cerdan (general director at La Fémis), Marcin Malatyński (head of International Relations at the Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School) and Maria Marta Antin (head of International Affairs and Communication at the Universidad del Cine), discussed the limits and advantages of their activities, all the while trying to figure out how to better promote their schools abroad.
As pointed out by Coste-Cerdan, although students coming in from outside the EU often have to meet different study-related requirements, over the past few years, their presence has become absolutely crucial. “Today, it’s impossible to be a national school without being international,” she stressed. “Our students have to understand that there are other points of view. We want them to be able to adapt to the changing industry, in which co-productions are becoming more and more common.”
The same goes for local recruits. Even though most exchange programmes, workshops and projects take place over brief periods of time (mostly due to a lack of funding, as popular initiatives like Erasmus Plus don’t take into account the particular characteristics of film schools), they still provide students with experiences that they might benefit from later on – and, as argued by Malatyński, not just in their careers. “Once, we did an animation workshop in collaboration with Sapir College from Israel, and halfway through, Passover started. We decided to celebrate together – we were singing songs we didn’t know and having fun. Experiences like that go way beyond mere education. If every once in a while people would just gather around the table, the world would be different.”
While every film school has different priorities and teaching methods, the main goal of such initiatives seems clear: to allow students to broaden their horizons. However, as stated by Tingaud, they should never forget about their own identity. “We are always talking about the globalisation of cinema, but in every film made by our students, you can still see the specific characteristics of their country,” she said. Which might explain why most of them decide to come back once they have completed their studies. “I don’t think it’s important if they stay or not. For me, what really matters is whether this experience will change them,” observed Mouriéras. “Making films is all about trying to understand the world and come up with new ways of expression, which you could never do if you just stayed in the same place.”
According to Coste-Cerdan, in order to fully benefit from their travels, students should also try to maintain their contacts after graduation. “Even when they decide to come back, we still try to mentor them – especially because their countries often lack the necessary infrastructure,” she stated. “Which is why we should try to strengthen the alumni network and create a community of people who share the same goals. We should also offer them some financial support, because it’s very difficult to find funding on your own, especially at the beginning.”
While one simply cannot learn everything about a different culture in such a short space of time, apparently even the fish-out-of-water experience can prove invaluable. “Once, I went to Afghanistan to make a film, only to find that owing to a security problem, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I had set out to do,” recounted Mouriéras. “Instead of going back, I arrived at a little town in the middle of nowhere. I was alone and didn’t speak the language, but it didn’t matter – I would just take in all of the images. At CinéFabrique, we often want to stay close to our students, but they might learn so much more on their own. Sometimes getting lost is just what you need.”
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