Embracing Diversity in European Film Schools

GEECT Twin Conference 
ifs internationale filmschule köln and 
Netherlands Film Academy

European society has undergone fundamental change: migration and shifting demographics have led to a new multiplicity that is celebrated by some, and feared or downright rejected by others. Alongside ethnic, cultural and social origins, other aspects such as gender and sexual orientation have also moved into the spotlight. Already controversial, reflective and rousing debates have recently reached new heights. 

How should we as film schools deal with these social changes and debates? After all, it is the media that we teach that decisively shape social discourse and, in their narratives, create relevant models for the young generation. Are the universities that teach audiovisual media living up to the diversity of our society? What political discourses about power and abuse should be conducted in higher education? How can we remove the visible and invisible hurdles that prevent people of different background, gender, social status, sexual orientation, or disability from studying at our universities? 

With the two-part GEECT Conference "Embracing Diversity in European Film Schools", the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam and the ifs internationale filmschule köln jointly invite the European film schools to discuss topics and issues of diversity and examine the necessary changes that need to take place at our institutions. 

As film schools we bear a specific responsibility to take on social changes and debates and to reflect the diversity of our society both in front of and behind the camera as well as in our university structures. Our students and graduates touch and influence other people – their stories can shake things up, shift perspectives, and open up new visions – making it all the more important for us to make the most diverse voices heard. 

This is our goal with this two-part conference. In the context of the first part, which takes place at the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam on 23-25 January 2019, we critically examine the status quo of diversity at European film schools: How are professors, students and staff set up? Are they trained to deal with diversity? In which forms does discrimination occur? What curriculum can promote the representation of diversity in audiovisual works? Do the artistic works of our students reflect the political relevance of diversity in our society? Is there a general appreciation of diversity? Is each individual given the opportunity to attain their full potential? 

In top-class keynote presentations and interactive workshops, and using a variety of audiovisual design tools and techniques, we explore stereotypes and unconscious biases, introduce best/worst practices of our schools, and define future tasks and goals for the second part of the conference. Taking place at the ifs internationale filmschule köln in Cologne from 6-8 March 2019, the second part focusses on how concrete changes can be implemented within curricula and higher education structures. Together, we want to establish perspectives and measures for inclusive film university education, and arrive at a mutual agreement on guidelines that ensure a lively and lived diversity at the European film schools, and that profoundly shape the creativity of young media talents and foster social coexistence.

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