One of the major highlights for me during the TTP weekend was the Media that Matters presentation. As school teachers, our aim in educating students is not simply for them to be better readers or to perform well on standardized tests, but rather to be democratic citizens who have a strong critical consciousness. Media that Matters showcases short films on important topics of the day that “engage diverse audiences and inspire them to take action.”
The films shown in class, ranging from Ashray by Ambika Samarthya to Hammoudi by Anwar Saab were powerful and inspiring. Ambika contrasted the difference in today’s documentary films, which have a story arc, character development, and plot, with those of the 80’s where experts primarily talked at the audience.
An important point that Ambika made was that “ultimately documentaries are also someone’s point of view” on a particular situation. In a similar vein, Catherine Gouley pointed out the following day that “primary sources can also be biased.” It is important to get our students to examine media through a critical lens. They can watch a film and question: Which group’s voice is being represented? Who is left out? Who is projected in a position of power? Older students can also examine how camera angles, editing and choice of background music can alter the image of a person.
Documentary mentioned by Ambika Samarthya as the original "Slumdog Millionaire"
For critical analysis, short films are a great tool to use in classroom, especially elementary classes. Even though it is great to analyze them through different lens (like Pam Goble's media circles), sometimes it is crucial to immerse yourself in it and just feel the film. One film that my second and third-graders love watching is The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse.