The French Section is proud to be opening a Cinema and Audiovisual studies option for our secondary students. Our aim is not to watch big-budget Hollywood productions together – kids can access that kind of cinema easily enough by themselves. What we are proposing, through the study of lesser-known though not exactly obscure films, is an initiation into an artistic form that plays an important role in our society – a role that cannot be overstated. It is crucial that our students learn to understand the meaning images convey and that they acquire the tools they need to decrypt the messages that films carry.  

The project, led by Ms Simon, one of our French literature teachers who also holds a teaching diploma in Cinema studies, reflects our desire to increase the number of options available to the growing French Section secondary student body. Opening an option, as I suggested when I wrote to you about Latin, is a way of opening minds. The growth of our school, in particular the fact that our class sizes have grown, has changed our demography. There are more and more French Section teenagers in Yangmingshan and their presence has led to increased cultural demand, which it is our job to meet.  

During their formative years, our FS teenagers are faced with a demanding curriculum; at the same time, we expect them to learn how to cast a curious and critical eye over the world around them. More than that, we also want to enable them as soon as possible to start playing an active role in society – we do not wish for them to be mere extras, spectators or consumers. (You see how ideal cinematic terminology is when it comes to describing our fluctuating attitudes from passive to “action”!) How many times have I written in these letters of our desire to empower students to occupy a leading role in their education? The Cinema and Audiovisual Studies option ticks that box – one of its major outcomes is for students to produce their own short film. They will acquire the know how to do it, and will go beyond being mere spectators – however wonderful a position that can sometimes be – to come up with the ideas and become actors, directors, screen-writers.

Our secondary students are not short of their own ideas. Néoptimiste, the international webmagazine founded and orchestrated by Irène (1ère) – without any intervention from school – is one of the most striking examples. Our role, as educators, within the classroom, is to help students overcome obstacles and create opportunities for them. That is why we are working with our partners at the French Office in Taipei to develop networks that will benefit our students: partnerships with art-house cinemas, visits by professionals, theoretical and practical workshops etc. The relationship between France and Taiwan in terms of cinema is a special one and that should be exploited to our students’ advantage.

As Cavell taught us, cinema allows us to add a spark and a meaning to real life. Let’s hope that our Cinema and Audiovisual students under their teacher’s guidance will light that spark and help us understand our world a little better by projecting it onto the big screen.  

Have an excellent weekend!                         


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