With sincere thanks to the Catholic Curriculum Corporation for their forward vision to fund a project that speaks to critical literacy through the mediated lens, The Catholic Film Reader will be released later this fall/early winter. The resource looks at popular Hollywood cinema through a societal and political lens, while making connections to the core Gospel values of: Faith, Service, Courage, Justice, Reconciliation, Hope, Love and Community. Considering that students are readily and excessively interacting with media and visual texts through mobile technology, it really is the perfect time to create a teacher and student centric resource that allows for movies to be screened in class for meaning.
As I am currently adding the finishing touches on the resource, before final submission, and I’m thrilled at the idea that teachers can leverage The Catholic Film Reader to engage students in deep conversations about narrative, culture, faith and identity. Geared towards Gr. 9 – 12 Religion classes (but suitable for Gr. 7 and Gr. 8 as well), the films explored are both entertaining but deeply provocative as well. From Gravity to E.T. and The Hunger Games, the resource, will provide novice teachers with a framework to teach film as it needs to be taught: as a medium for popular conversation around shared and lived ideas. We need critical citizens and this resource promises to be the “why and how” of reading film through a academic framework.
Speaking through a production lens which I also specialize, the technology is meaningless without story. Recently, I took my 5yr old daughter and 3yr old son to see Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot. Embedded within the Hollywood spectacle of hyper – CGI graphics and defying musical score, was a story of female empowerment , rebellion and a revisionist approach to science. Women, as the film tells us, can “do” science too. That “doing” is at the heart of the story. Within the world of science, where the female busters are framed as “frauds,” by their male counterparts, a critical reading of the film is urgent . As we walked out of the theatre , my children and I talked about meaning. We talked about what women do today and the “glass ceilings” they continue to break and how the film is connected. Although, they are young, at a very basic level, they understand that “girls can be Ghostbusters too.” Now, as a Catholic educator, it is important to take that conversation and embed our faith.
Excitingly, embedded within The Catholic Film Reader, which will be available to schools across the province as a Desire 2 Learn import and in PDF form, are expert voices in both faith studies and film criticism. As such, the resource has been produced in great collaboration and promises to be a viable educational entity. Film is more than a classroom “filler.”
I’ll be presenting The Catholic Film Reader for the first time at When Faith Meets Pedagogy on Friday October 28. Please join me for a conversation about film and faith.
Here’s an example of some of the excerpt voices included in the resource. Along with these videos, the resource provided interactive lessons and learning activities.
Stay tuned for the official release . I’ll share once it’s available on the CCC website later this fall / early winter.
Warm and special thanks are extended to Linda Vandeven (London District Catholic School Board),Melinda Ferrara (York Catholic District School Board), Susan Nigro – Perrotta (Toronto Catholic District School Board), Stefania Lista, Dr. Dru Jeffries and Dr. Anne Lancashire, who made incredible and valued contributions to the project.