The astounding pace of media developments in recent decades has led to a revision of the concept of literacy. In this era of educational reform where new curricula will be introduced, film literacy has become more important. Here are the existing efforts made by public institutions and private sectors in the realm of film education for educators.
Film, with its distinct language, style and aesthetics, is a unique art form. For future educators, teacher-training institutions do provide a few film and media elective courses for our would-be teachers at undergraduate level. The Department of English at Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) for example, offers modules like Introduction to Film Studies and the Use of Film in Second Language Education; the Department of Cultural and Creative Arts also provides modules on moving images and courses on multi-media for potential visual arts teachers.
On the other hand, education students in comprehensive universities can take media related courses from arts and social sciences faculties as elective choice. For example, CUHK education students in Liberal Studies Programmes can take media and cultural studies offered by the School of Journalism and Communication; HKU students majoring in English Language Education can take courses on literature and cinematic text offered by the School of English. Given the vibrant scene of film studies in universities these days, it should not be too difficult for education students to familiarize themselves with this art medium.
It should be noted, however, that a comprehensive film course covering the basics of film studies is not embedded in the core education curriculum for potential teachers. In fact, little has yet been developed to explore a systematic, sustainable and coherent film education for our educators, not to mention their students.
Teachers from different disciplines are trained in their specific fields of study, but few are familiar with the film medium. For those who are already in the profession and who have not been able to benefit from the film studies courses now available in universities and colleges, the Education Bureau does offer a variety of intensive courses and workshops. However, being fragmentary and one-off by nature, they do not provide a comprehensive and coherent understanding of moving images as an art in its own right. Without the basics of film literacy and a lack of specialist expertise, many teachers may feel neither competent nor confident to teach new electives related to film.
Of course, the most significant efforts on film education in Hong Kong as in most places come from passionate individuals and cultural organisations with real commitment to arts and culture. Currently, Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA), Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) and Broadway Cinematheque (BC) are regular venues screening a wide variety of non-mainstream films ranging from retrospectives of masters, national cinema to independent films, often supplemented by seminars, talks and short term courses on related topics. Hong Kong Film Critics Society (HKFCS) deserve a special mention here for its efforts on dedicating courses to both secondary school students and teachers. These experiences are, however, disconnected and one-off by nature.
After reviewing the picture locally, it is our belief that in order to effectively implement film education in the Hong Kong schooling system, we have to go back to the basics.
The JCCA 3-year film education programme is an attempt in this direction.