Here, in Catalonia, every year, during a week, we do what the system calls «Credit de síntesi» that in english would be translated as «Synthesis work» roughly speaking. This project is developed by the young ones working in little groups of five or six members.
In the second grade of ESO, and specifically in my school, the theme of the "Crèdit de Síntesi" is Africa; Africa studied and analysed from all points of view.
Over the past two years, we have dedicated one of the days to attend a play, in the theater, about the world's inequalities and about the famine of some African regions; but this time (I'm talking about last June) the company who usually worked in this project stopped performing this play. And I had to seek another option to fill that day.
I have always thought that we must stimulate the creativity of the students, and that we must suggest funny and singular activities to motivate them, so I suggested to the teaching staff of second grade to set up a shortfilm's contest about Africa.
All the students, during the 14-15, learnt to use Movie-Maker along the study of technology, and so they knew how to link different pieces of recordings, how to add music to a video, how to writte titles and credits on a video... So, I thought they could face this challenge and come out with a good work for the Cinema Festival.
The teaching staff agreed and we incorporated the First Festival of Cinema about Africa in my School.
Of course, they worked in little groups of five persons, and all of them were thirteen years old. Every group had to make a movie. Every movie had to have a maximum duration of five minutes, and the festival jury would evaluate the screenplay, the interpretation of every actor or actress, the work of the director, the originality, and of course the creativity.
Well, the results were great.
People who watched the movies in the theater of the school spent more than one hour laughing, crying, thinking, and enjoying the twenty four short films, all very different stories, different points of view, different feelings, all great.
They were great not merely because of the quality of the movies, but especially the enthusiasm, passion, fervour, of the children. Most of them discovered a different way to enjoy themselves; a way that probably they would have never discovered if they hadn't had the necessity of doing an assignment like this. After the festival, I heard some girls saying: «we have to repeat this experience». We have to gather again in Can Boada. To make their movie, these same girls had gathered in the hills near Terrassa, had dressed up with pareos, had their faces painted in red, yellow and blue... and had danced a tribal coreography trying to put across the idea that says that Africa is not merely a country of war and hate, but also a place of happiness and joy. They won the oscar for the best photography, and the Oscar for the best movie.
The jury awarded a prize (an Oscar) to the best actor or actress, to the best screen play, to the best movie, to the best photography, and some special prizes like the prize to the most newsworthy movie, that was won by a group that had made an interview with a Senegalese immigrant.
It was a thrilling and fun experience.
Children enjoyed and discovered a new way of creating.