Text: Asia Flisek
Photos: aKINO, Odra Studio
Asia Flisek /PURO: I have to admit that there is something I’ve been wondering about for a little while. Why is the project called aKINO*?
Joanna Żak: In fact, it’s “aaaKINO”! Coming up with this, we were thinking about the emotions we wanted to evoke in kids and youth – simple joy, excitement and even fear. A movie is the carrier of these emotions; it can astound, frighten and touch. We don’t want spectators to be afraid of expressing their real feelings. aKINO stands for a different way of thinking about film education. Usually, children go to the movies with their class, the screening is preceded with a lecture and, when a movie ends, there’s time for discussions and analyses. When it comes to us, the base is similar – our main audiences are school classes and we prepare some didactic materials for teachers. However, aKINO focuses much more on opening the minds and hearts of the participants to emotions evoked by films. We want to make them active and willing to bring these feelings into their everyday lives.
For which age groups is the initiative targeted?
We target five age groups: preschoolers, grades 1-3, 4-6, middle school pupils and high school pupils. Each month we show five different movies appropriate for a given age group. We try not to engage preschoolers in topics that are too difficult, but rather teach them something by means of shorts and family movies.
The October theme says “I move!”. What’s the idea behind it? Is it sport or, perhaps, any other activity?
We kind of wanted the theme to be associated with your first guess, that is movement. We intend to drag the kids away from their computers and convince them to be active. We’ve prepared a “guide to micro sports”, which presents old street games such as hopscotch or hacky sack. You could play them everywhere and all you needed was chalk and pavement or stick and sand. In our movie theater, we’ve created a hopscotch pattern, a snake children have to hope over on one foot, and a labyrinth on the second floor. We used to have a track for playing bottle caps, but kids didn’t know the game. Thanks to it, they realized that an ordinary object could turn into a part of a race and that a movie theater was not only for watching movies. Here, activity is a run towards life, a sign of being joyous and adventure-seeking. Talking to a housing estate council about a lack of playground is also a form of activity.
What kinds of movies will be shown? And why these?
Preschoolers will see “Molly Monster” – a story of the Monster family whose members resemble dragons. Another child will join a three-person family and parents have to go to a different island in order for an egg to hatch. Molly is supposed to stay at her uncle’s. She’s so impatient to see the new child that she’s crocheting a hat for it and insists that the child wear the hat the moment it’s born. Her parents forget to take the hat to the island and Molly decides to bring it to them herself. Her motivation to be a good older sister leads to a whole lot of events. The next movie, “Eleanor’s Secret”, is also about two siblings. A brother and a sister suddenly find themselves in their grandma’s library where, as it turns out, fairy-tale heroes have escaped their stories and everything has to be ordered once again. We want the kids to see that reading is fun, that it shows us other worlds, and that we can learn a lot from it. Middle school and high school pupils will see “Hip Hop-eration”. The hitch is that hip hop dancers are ninety years old. This movie may connect generations and show youth that grandmas and grandpas are also active and willing to express themselves. And there’s no better music to do that than hip hop. For primary school pupils we’ve prepared two shorts. One of them tells the story of a sumo wrestler and the other of a fencer. These are the stories about ten- and eleven-year-olds who try to cope with their own failures and insecurities through sport. As it turns out, sport is not only about a physical effort, but also about a fight with one’s own weaknesses and a desire for making one’s dreams come true.
You mentioned that the screenings are accompanied by various activity-inducing actions. What will it look like in October?
With younger audiences, we’re going to focus on the “guide to micro sports”. When it comes to older kids, and in relation to “Hip Hop-eration”, we put forward the idea that they register moments they spend with their grandparents. We want to overcome stereotypes about generational conflicts. We encourage youth to do something with their grandparents or older neighbors. Lend them a helping hand by, for example, accompanying them while they walk a dog. We will show these shared activities to the world.
Previously, you also asked participants to send you their works. How did it work and how many of them actually did it?
In May, we asked participants for self-portraits. They could choose any technique they wanted – including lyrics – but the majority of them chose painting. Also, from the very beginning, we stressed the fact that their works could become a mural in the future. Some of them mixed self-portrait with the elements of graffiti, others showed objects that described them. One boy draw himself as a knight. In the end, we decided to award preschoolers’ works. These were simple children’s drawings with garish colors and disproportionate shapes. We felt captivated and talked to the principal of and the teacher from Preschool no. 141 in Wroclaw, a school from which the works had been sent. Both of them loved the idea to transfer the drawings to the walls of a building.
So, will there be a mural on the walls of a preschool?
It’s already there! It was made by boys from the Odra Studio collective, Kamil Zgonowicz and Mateusz Kaufhold. They truly felt the style of the kids, but had their own interpretation of the drawings and made the silhouettes hold hands. We were lucky. Overall, a mural covers three parts of a wall and is beautiful.
What can the participants expect in the upcoming months?
November will bring the most serious topic: history. What we mean by this is a search for one’s own identity and roots. Once again, it’s a gesture of respect towards older family members. The motif joining all screenings will be the history of bread. The history of how it used to be made and how it is made now. We will also touch upon the subject of family recipes. There will be a lot of movies showing how kids used to live. The ones prepared for the older audience are about situations in times of war, for example, about how difficult it is to maintain friendship and be fair. The films won’t be easy, but they will talk about fundamental issues such as trust, friendship and experiences of other people. On the other hand, the movies for the younger audience will revolve around events from childhood. What we dream of and are fascinated with as a child may become our future job or passion. Shorts also include “Mythopolis” – a story about the creation of the world – directed in the Czech Republic. We were afraid that the narrative might be too difficult for young spectators, but we showed the movie a few days ago during the Kino Dzieci festival. And everyone was laughing!
What about December?
December – love! (laugh) It’s the basic value and essential feeling for all of us. We will show the story of kids who want to support their mom financially and decide to steal a dog from a rich woman. What’s more, there will be Wes Anderson’s “The Moonrise Kingdom”, a story about an innocent, first affection of a pair of teenagers, and a school story about a newbie in class and a girl with whom he falls in love. A bunch of stories based on basic emotions.
You’ve already mentioned it a bit, but, could you sum it up and say how many participants come to these events? Do kids and youth of Wroclaw want to watch, to act, to listen?
Right before every show we go out there to our young audiences and wind them up a bit. We do our best not to talk about films in school categories, we chat with them and tell them about emotions. This is the moment when you can see the greatest number of spontaneous impulses. So far, each lecture has met with applause. Children do care that there is someone who treats their emotions seriously. We tell them that they may not like a movie and the have all the right to do so. They can leave the movie theater and shout it out. And it truly affects them – the awareness that a movie is not there for the sole purpose of them having something to write a review about. A movie is there to provide an experience.
*KINO is a Polish word for a movie theater.