It is accepted that society has a responsibility to ensure that children learn to read and write in order to empower them to live their lives to the full as active citizens. In an age when children and young people receive much of their education, information and entertainment via moving images it is suggested that children and young people should similarly be enabled to be media literate too.
Visual literacy enables young people to understand how the film and moving image texts that they consume make meaning, encourages them to watch films from a variety of sources and inspires them to create films of their own. In so doing they are empowered to be culturally literate – to be able to ‘read’ the films and moving image texts they see every day and ‘write’ their own for others to watch too.
The UK already has what are probably some of the best film education initiatives in the world. However, for most young people, if they experience film education at all it is as isolated episodes that lack consistency and progression. In Bradford we want to move film education on from being a series of disconnected experiences to becoming an integral part of every young person’s life – a systematic process in which confidence and articulacy grow by having the opportunity to see a wide range of films and other visual content, to gain a critical understanding of film and to enjoy the creative activity of filmmaking. We also see this initiative as a key driver for building appreciative audiences of the future who also value creativity and the skills and costs of producing content. We would like to encourage more diverse and dynamic voices to critique visual content in a confidant manner.
We have already had success with the Bradford Film Literacy programme at primary school level and a funded PhD thesis on the subject. We now wish to develop this initiative further and develop a dedicated institute as foundation for research, training and further development in this field. In addition to working with academics, schools and colleges we would also like to work with broadcasters and filmmakers so that they also gain a greater understanding of visual literacy. We aim to share research findings and best practice on an international platform and learn from other areas of the world, which may be developing similar techniques.
Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film. This permanent title bestows international recognition on Bradford as a world centre for film because of the city’s rich film heritage, its inspirational movie locations and its many celebrations of the moving image through the city’s film festivals, filmed related events and unique approach to learning about film and learning with film.
Bradford UNESCO City of Film is based at the University of Bradford, a technology university with over 50 years of cutting-edge research experience. Research here is ranked in the top 50 in the UK (HEFCE, 2014) for research quality with three quarters being classed as either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Please see below for suggested areas activity within the institute which will be developed over time with a range of partners
Suggested activity areas
- Training for teachers/ lecturers/ broadcasters/ filmmakers / game developers in visual literacy techniques
- On-going research into the effectiveness of visual literacy across the curriculum
- Academic research into film and visual literacy
- Development of the use of archive film in learning
- Seminars and keynote lectures on the subject
- Development of lesson plans for mainstream and selective film releases
- Development online resources to accompany film/ game releases – working with distribution agencies and studios
- Development of a more diverse range of film critics across the diversity spectrum (i.e. cultural/ gender/ socio-economic)
- On-going liaison with broadcasters and creators about the use of visual literacy and research findings
- Dissemination and collaboration with international partners (UNESCO + others)
- Additional benefits of building future audiences and addressing issues such as piracy
Bradford UNESCO City of Film are currently looking for a range of partners in this initiative. Please contact David Wilson if you would like to be involved.