If you're in charge of educational programming for your library, museum, school, or organization, one great way to engage and educate your community is with a film screening or film series.
Here's how a film screening can meet your programming and educational needs:
1. CONTINUING EDUCATION:
Screenings are a great way to continue the conversation on issues being discussed in the classroom, the news, in literature, and on social media.
Think of it as 'continuing education' for people who are lifelong students. Looking for a film that goes behind the news coverage of the Ferguson, Missouri controversy?
Unlike a curriculum-based program that may require the creation of handouts, a lecture, or group exercises, a film screening is a ready-made lesson plan.
All you need is seating and a TV monitor or projector screen. Just push play and let the story do the teaching for you.
Some filmmakers even have educational materials available on their website, or interactive online projects where viewers can learn more about what they've watched and get involved. When I Walk, for example, features the Google-based AXS Map, where participants can add and rate handicap-accessible places across the country.
3. EASY PROGRAM PROMOTION:
You have attendance numbers you need to hit for program reporting (and self-esteem) purposes.
Connect with the filmmakers, their educational distributor, and some partner organizations to help you promote your event online and on social media.
Most filmmakers already have a social media presence, many with followings in the thousands or tens of thousands (Neurons to Nirvana, for instance, has 27,580 Facebook followers).
Your partners will be happy to help you because your success is their success.
4. LOCAL AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT:
There is probably a documentary about your city.
When you screen a film that resonates with your community - rather than a generic film that appeals to any audience - you are likely to attract to your event activists and professionals working on similar causes, and create a space of engagement and collaboration on ways to raise awareness about the issues on screen. What film will get your community interacting?
Burn, for instance, is likely to attract fire fighters, urban planners, and policy makers in and around Detroit; Above All Else is ideal for anyone impacted by the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline; and Rich Hill acts as a mirror of life in small rural communities.
Listening to stories about and from your own community shapes how you understand the history and future of where you live - which is important for anyone who wants to continue living there.
You can make your film screening count as two programs in your annual reporting!
Bring in the filmmakers for a Question and Answer session following the screening so audience members can deeper understand the issues, gain behind-the-scenes insight, and get caught up on the storyline.
If the filmmaker is not local and you're on a tight budget, consider bringing in a professor, writer, or practicing professional in a related field.
Glacial Balance would warrant a climate change expert; Going Attractions can be followed up with a cinema owner or film studies professor; Aftermath and Berlin Calling would be complemented by visits from Holocaust survivors; Unsupersize Me and Carb Loaded are good fits for nutritionists.
Bring these together and voila - You have just organized both a seminar and a film screening.
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