“A thousand and one films” project: Education and cinema

Since 2016, a pilot educational experiment has been underway, that of “A Thousand and One Films”, a national program for the introduction of film teaching in Tunisian schools, led by its founder, director Moncef Dhouib. After three years of successful roaming from 2016 to 2019 and a disruption caused by the pandemic, the experience is starting again. 6,000 schoolchildren were introduced to the basics of the 7And art.

Andn 2023 a new chapter of “A thousand and one films” is about to begin. Backed by the current Ministry of Education, the project continues to make an impact. Out of 24 governorates, 12 schools per governorate were visited. For three years, 6,000 schoolchildren, mostly from disadvantaged regions, were able to take part in this work.

Pupils/students of middle schools, primary schools and universities located in rural areas (even completely isolated) receive visits from trainers, cinema specialists. The latter are aimed at the teaching staff of a school: they present the project, its objective, and promote a passion and knowledge to be maintained with the students. Children who remain in search of this practical, uplifting and very entertaining knowledge and who are passionately dedicated to it. “Since the launch of this project, I have always thought it was necessary to work with schools first and foremost. We therefore thought of addressing those under the age of 14, who are trying to find themselves, and who do not know the evils of society and the difficulties of life. At a certain age, we can lose young people forever, if we don’t reach them sooner and sooner,” says Moncef Dhouib, director and project manager. Two permanent members support the “One Thousand and One Films”: the Ministry of Education and that of Cultural Heritage (through the Cnci, which contributes to production and training).

The main part of the work is to convey it by training the trainers: these teachers who in turn will ensure that these film initiation workshops are maintained to ensure the sustainability of the training in the designated educational institution and schedule it on the duration in the planning of cultural activities. These teacher-trainers must be passionate and promote the project. All of them have adopted the project.

An established initiative

in its time

“What we do is necessary: ​​we are illiterate when it comes to reading an image. Through this project, we consolidate our knowledge, in order to better decipher this image tsunami, its production, its impact. Hence the urgency to start building the image early. We maintain the educational aspect of the film industry. Cinematographic language must be accessible to everyone, primarily accessible to 8/14 year olds. Cinema is inseparable in the digital age, nowadays. It is digital, very present on the net, and obscures the written word because today everything is image, virtual, reportage and documentary,” explains Moncef Dhouib.

Thanks to the Ministry of Education, access to educational institutions is easier. The Cnci provides trainers, most of whom are film school graduates: they must be mainly cameramen, image specialists and editors. About ten of them are selected through tenders. In addition to their knowledge, they must have a driving license. In fact, these same trainers cross Tunisia through mobile units, in pairs, equipped with the necessary equipment for the application of the project. An unfailing commitment on the part of “these ambassadors of the 7And art”, composed of 5 women and 5 men (equality requires).

This long-term work is carried out in several sessions and according to the schools available. It consists of three phases: the first takes place theoretically by introducing the basics of cinema, through an elaborate document that explains in detail the elementary rules of cinema. The 2And it is the writing of the screenplay and its illustration, individually, but above all as a group. The 3And internship allows pupils-participants to work in the field, go out and apply their knowledge under the watchful eye of the trainers-teachers and with the permission of the parents of the pupils.

The project illustrates this union between culture and Artificial Intelligence: culture, once oral and written, is now convertible into digital, accessible on online platforms, and thanks to its connectivity via tablets, web and social networks. The project is part of its time and allows for a better reading of the Image: a node that connects culture, education and technology.

“The project remains expensive: expenses are incurred, but it worked in this structural way,” quotes Moncef Dhouib enthusiastically. He can’t wait to get back for a new school tour and to do a post-Covid reboot. The project is still seeking private financial support. “A Thousand and One Films” is a forerunner in the Mena region and its export to other countries remains imminent. A legacy of this experience for future generations and its influence within the country and beyond borders remain imperative.

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