The Kaliningrad Regional NGO The Woman’s World wanted to foster critical thinking among young people 14-17 years of age and help them develop discussion skills and the ability to express their individual opinions in various fields, including citizenship and human rights. In order to do so, they created a cinema club.
The participants of the club would first watch a movie and then discuss the film or issues raised by it. Discussions in groups of 8-12 people would include pupils, the project manager, a psychologist and the teacher or class supervisor. Most importantly the topics chosen for discussions stem from the participants and their and interest, rather than being imposed by the organizers. The length of the discussion was between 0,5-1,5 hours. Everyone would have an equal right to express their opinion.
During such club meetings school students had the possibility to take part in meaningful debates on different subjects, acquired and nurtured the skills of formulating reasoned statements in various fields, including citizenship and human rights. During 2016, the project resulted in 24 film viewings, involving 230 teenagers and 10 teachers.
Reactions from participants have been positive, many drawing parallels between what they saw in the films and experienced in their daily lives.
“There is a girl at our school who is an object of constant teasing. They call her a loser. Scarecrow is a cool movie: I understood that every seemingly strange person may be living a life, which explains his looks and behaviour. One has to be more attentive to people”, Inga, (15) said, while Victoria (14) reconsidered how she made friends:
“When I try to make friends with somebody I wish to be very good to that person. In the movie Klava does not select those who can be useful to her, but those who believe in her. I said to myself: maybe it is more important in friendship to select not the one who can give you more, but one who believes in you more? To see the good in the other person and say this to your friend more often”.
The experience has also been positively evaluated by local schools, with several schools requesting to host film discussion clubs in form of extracurricular activities.
As one of the organisers, Svetlana Zanegina specified the team will also prepare a methodological e-book covering the experience of organizing the club. In addition club coordinators, trained from among the most active participants, are ready to continue the work of the club without the immediate help of adults.