Iranian National School of Cinema started its activities officially in the professional and technical field of cinema under the directorship of Prof. Rouhollah Hosseini on March 15, 2015.The School, as the first step, by identifying and choosing the elite and prime young filmmakers, twenty trainees were put under education among them Bahman and Bahram Ark who shined with their work, “Animal”, in the international film festival. The film highly was acclaimed by the critics.
Prof. Hosseini in his words implied that part of the education in National School of Cinema is defined based on the demand and also the needs of the society.
By the change in the general policy of the National School of Cinema, Education is the sector which was influenced and affected the most. What are the latest developments in the education sector in the National School of Cinema? It can be the starting point for our discussion.
- Iranian National School of Cinema is an educational and research-oriented institution and naturally, education and research are/have been the pivots of our activities from the beginning. Only there have been some changes in priorities and attitudes. I mean, since a year ago, we did not involve directly into educating young filmmakers for Iranian Cinema. But it doesn’t mean that we are not engaged with nurturing and directing the youth. Contrarily, according to the new policies and plans, we will continue cultivating the young filmmakers in a new way. Accordingly, we signed six treaties with six outstanding universities and educational centers which have cinema studies including the University of Tehran, University of the Arts, Tarbiat Modares, Iranian Radio and Television University, Soore University, and the University of Applied Science and Technology. Our new mission is to empower the students through cooperation with these universities in order to prepare the trainees for the job market.
In fact, these educational centers are/can be the conduit through which the trainees enter to cinema. Based on the pact, it is due to devise and run a plan by the aid and collaboration of these universities in order to “empower and make employable” the cinema studies students for the job market. It helps them to be prepared for the cinema and their career. It is as same as the previous plans devised by the National School of Cinema to identify the abled and talented out of the cinema and educational centers, this time it is performed for the geniuses identified within the universities.
It means that you perform the plans with an eye to the job market.
I think this new plan is much more effective and useful than the previous one with regard to the current situation in the Iranian Cinema in which significant number of graduates are jobless and errant. Otherwise, at least I myself would leave the Cinema School, despite all the efforts and time I spent since the beginning. Because I am an academic and I know how and to what extent helping to Higher Education to connect to industry and professional environment is important and vital.
We all agree that a number of our elite in different domains and also cinema get spoiled when they enter the universities. This is because of several reasons. I am familiar with the environment and the universities’ facilities, relations, the ruling bureaucracy and the cinema studies student in our country, as well. Up until now, except the University of Applied Science and Technology, about 850 students were nominated and introduced to us. The University of Applied Science and Technology alone has accepted more than 3000 students in different fields of cinema. Imagine, nearly 4000 graduates in cinema with the hope of finding job enter the universities. You can guess the future of such a trend: many of these students eventually will be disappointed due to different reasons and undoubtedly some of the talents among them those who are struggling will be corroded. To avoid such a horror condition, the Iranian National School of Cinema, based on the treaty signed with universities and Higher Education centers, in order to identify and support the talented students, get involves and helps the educational centers. The sponsorship will be due in the field of research. We will sponsor and support the academic theses and dissertations which are aimed to help Iranian cinema and resolving its related issues.
In summary, we could have identified and advocated nearly 20 students in the starting point of the School but now through this new strategy elite and generally speaking all the young filmmakers in the universities will be supported, and as I implied, by considering the today’s Iranian cinema condition, this new method of sponsoring will be much more helpful for Iranian cinema. Thus, the youth and the elites are not deprived from the Cinema School support but the form of advocacy and also the form of identification, education and support has been changed. I personally do applaud this new way of advocacy, moreover I stress out that the nature of the Iranian Cinema School is research-oriented and educational.
How do you identify the talented in the universities?
Although, currently, entering the universities is in a way that experts and authorities believe that it is not satisfying and desirable for the growth and educational, economic, cultural, and scientific development- in the other words all the applicants with any interest and talent should pass Konkoor, the Univrsity entrance exam, and it leads to the exclusion of some geniuses- but through this sifting a significant number of gifted students, say in cinema studies and filmmaking enter the universities. In fact, many students of sagacity who want to pursue the arts and cinema gravely will enter one of the prominent universities in Humanity and the Arts. Therefore, we cannot say that we are facing with a lack of cinematic talent in the Higher Education and in the Academic level. And positively, we can be successful in identifying the genius based on a mutual cooperation and a plan. Thus, monthly or even sometime bimonthly, we hold a meeting to check the results of our plans and programs in the central council of the “empowerment and employability of the students”. The members of the council are the universities’ dean. We keep consulting and discussing the plans and the projects. For instance, one of the most important programs which was approved is the “summer school”. It is due to be held yearly with the host of one of the universities mentioned above. This year, for the first time, this event will be held in Soore University. The capacity of the summer school is a limited number of 45 students for this round and each university can nominate only 9 persons for the event. Therefore, we are trying to devise a mechanism through which the best students could attend and participate in the summer school.
Also, in another workshop which will be held in this summer, one invitee professor is going to instruct the chosen students from the above mentioned universities on Animated Cinema. Since only the Arts University, Tarbiat Moddress, and Radio and Television University are active in the field of Animation, and the classes are practical, these educational centers can nominate limited number of cinema students to us.
Can we conclude that the education and research in the School is based on the demand?
Yes. Part of it is based on the demand. In fact, this issue includes the second part of our educational plans in the School. In addition to the agreement we reached with the universities, we signed another MOU with the (Iran’s) Cinema House, Cinema Organization, the Center for Development of Documentary and Experimental Cinema, Museum of Cinema, and the Iranian Visual Media Institute, … to share the teaching and instructing the individuals by the School in the way they educate the learners based on the training courses of their own. The Cinema Organization, in the long run, is trying to integrate and concentrate the trainings in the school and avoid any divergence in the field of education.
The centers aimed at producing produce and the institutions which are for education educate. This plan is not yet fulfilled fully. If it is done, it’s good news that an organization accepts that its departments operate systematically and in collaboration and connection with each other. It is a time-consuming and rare happening.
To achieve this goal, based on the MOU signed with Cinema House, the house approved to delegate its professional trainings to the School. Although, up until now, in a joint committee of the School and the Cinema House, twenty workshops were approved to be run for different sectors which most of them will be held up to end of the year.
Does the National Cinema School fund the demand-based educational courses?
Small portion of the cost is paid by those who participate and take the classes, and since the courses are based on the substantial needs of the cinema the other portion is granted by the government in the form of subsidy. The Cinema Organization like any other sizable sector in the structure of the government is required to enhance and improve the level of knowledge and vision of its staffs, trade unions, students and all those who are connected to cinema. It is better to say that to create situation which convinces sponsors to support our activities. We are trying to do something in this domain with the help of the private sector. For instance, we signed an MOU with Marco Polo Iran Touring Group, which is one of the leading and high profile touring groups in Iran. We reached an agreement to help cinema and tourism in Iran by collaborating together through education. Accordingly, we decided to focus on tourism filmmaking in our summer school. Thus, we hope that at least 20 short films would be made in the field of tourism which unquestionably can help the tourism environment. Therefore, Marco Polo can and must sponsor the trainers.
Can the private educational institutions demand for training courses in the National School of Cinema?
Certainly, yes. And we welcome and also appreciate such an event. But normally, when the private sector is pursuing to train its staff, it should pay the cost for. Furthermore, we believe that empowering and enhancing private sector can lead to the elevation and flourishment of our economy and culture. And besides, cinema feels better. For example, if it is due to hold any training courses for the private sector managers and free-standing cinema academies, undoubtedly, its cost will differ from the ones held for other private institutions. This is a governmental burden which we keep ourselves binding to it. Imagine, tens of private academies managers in Tehran become familiar and take the latest courses related to the cinematic education in the US and the Europe, such an event can enhance the level of education in these institutions.
You are going to hold the “Cinema in the Digital Age” Conference in near future. Could you please explain more about it?
Iranian National School of Cinema is going to hold an international conference in six months (in October) titled as Cinema in the Digital Age, with the help of the above mentioned universities and institutions and also the Cinema House. We have prepared the requirements and we have defined the main topics to be discussed. Besides, we held several meetings about the importance and necessity of holding such an international conference. We are trying to invite globally renowned experts and professionals who are knowledgeable and effective.
I stress out that we have entered an era, like the other historical eras that has changed the paradigms and made a revolution in order to transform the concepts. One of the eras is digitalism. In fact, we entered an era that using this tool is one thing but how this tool has changed our perspective and attitude is another point. We are going to discuss it and the conference will be held with such an attitude.