About “Children Meet Cinema”
Our mission is to promote a bright future for children and cinema. We organize a series of film and moving image workshops for children throughout Japan.
A short documentary of our filmmaking workshop in Kanazawa, 2011
Voice from guest lecturers
Title: "Happa ga aruku" (Walking Leaves)
A short film made by children from filmmaking workshop in Kanazawa, 2008.
“Children go out and conduct interviews at a sweets shop. They get excited to see the craftsmanship. This experience alone can be a successful field trip. But children with a camera discuss “which angle makes the sweets look most delicious?” or “what question should we ask next?” By watching them struggle and become passionate, we learn so much. I believe in the possibility of communication through camera, and want more children to see hope in it. It is essential that workshops like this are adopted in school curriculums in the near future.”
(“Nobody Knows” (2004), “Like Father, Like Son” (2013), “After The Storm” (2016))
“Le Cinema Sauvage (The Wild Cinema)
I would like to call the films made by children in this workshop “le cinema sauvage” (the wild cinema). Their films aren’t tame; they’re rough and wild, lively and full of joy. Their films have true brightness. We don’t teach how to make cinema, because even we don’t know exactly what cinema is. Children discover it by themselves while running down the streets or fields with a camera. I was eager to make films with children out of jealousy for the way they make films, not just act in them.
My latest film “Le Lion est mort ce soir” (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) began with such ambition. Together with Jean-Pierre Léaud, who used to be a child, and perhaps remains one now, we held workshops with children many times in France. My film was made by these children. Léaud saw the film and said, “This is beautiful, simple, and made for pure joy. THIS IS CINEMA. Bravo les enfants!” (Well done, children!)”
(“Yuki et Nina” (2009), “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (2017))
Etsuko Dohi, Founder of “Children Meet Cinema”
“Launched in 2004 in Kanazawa, we have been developing and exploring the possibilities of workshops involving children and cinema. Through filmmaking workshops and film clubs that provide opportunities to watch films and have dialogues about them, we have encouraged children to familiarize themselves with film culture and cultivate their boundless imagination and creativity.
What makes our workshops unique is that we provide no specific instruction or method in filmmaking; we fundamentally don’t teach children how to make a film. Instead, we set up an environment with hints, in which they can find answers by themselves and in teams. I have witnessed children who participated in our workshops gain more confidence by learning different values through observation and discussion, working together in teams and seeing audiences react to their works.
Involving professional filmmakers is also something we value. We have worked with notable film directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nobuhiro Suwa, Naomi Kawase, and animation director Koji Yamamura, as guest lecturers. They are involved from the beginning of each workshop’s development, in picking the theme, be it fiction or documentary or we choose not to tell the difference, organizing the workshop’s activities, and so on. I believe the best way to get an idea of cinema culture is to see these professionals’ attitudes towards filmmaking. It provides an unusual experience apart from daily life.
Lastly, as we the grown-ups observe the children participating and finding answers by themselves, we also get stimulated and are influenced positively. We usually form teams with five to six children and two to three adult staff members who are also emerging filmmakers or writers / scholars by profession. In helping children make films, we are reminded how free and fun a film can be by nature.
I hope our activity will spread throughout Japan, give hope to children and cinema, and bring a better future. ”