Since 2016 there has been an educational pilot project called the “Thousand and One Films”, a national program to introduce film education in Tunisian schools, led by its founder, director Moncef Dhouib. After three years of successful roaming from 2016 to 2019 and a pandemic-related standstill, the experience begins again. 6,000 school children were taught the basics of the 7the Art.
EIn 2023, a new chapter of “A Thousand and One Films” begins. The project, supported by the current Ministry of Education, continues to have an impact. Out of 24 governorates, 12 schools per governorate were visited. For three years, 6,000 schoolchildren, mostly from disadvantaged regions, were able to take part in this work.
Pupils/middle school students from elementary schools and colleges located in rural areas (even completely isolated) are visited by instructors, film specialists. The latter are aimed at school teachers: they present the project, its objectives and promote a passion and knowledge that should be cultivated in the students. Children who are looking for and are passionate about this practical, uplifting and very entertaining knowledge. “Since the start of this project, I have always thought that the primary need is to work with the schools. We therefore thought of reaching out to those under 14 who are trying to find themselves and who are unaware of the ills of society and the difficulties of life. At a certain age, we can lose young people forever if we don’t catch up with them beforehand and early on,” says Moncef Dhouib, director and project leader. Two permanent partners support Thousand and One Films: the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture (through the CNCi, which helps with production and training).
The main part of the work is to convey it through the training of the trainers: these teachers who in turn will ensure that these cinematic introductory workshops are maintained to ensure the sustainability of the training in the intended educational institution and in the planning for permanence to program cultural activities. These teacher educators must be passionate and supportive of the project. Everyone accepted the project.
A rooted initiative
in his time
“What we do is necessary: we are illiterate when it comes to reading a picture. Through this project we are consolidating our knowledge to better decode this tsunami of the image, its production, its impact. Hence the urgency to start making the image early. We cultivate the educational aspect of the film sector. Film language must be accessible to everyone, especially children aged 8/14. In today’s digital age, cinema is indispensable. It’s digital, it’s very present online and it overshadows the written word, because nowadays everything is visual, virtual, reportage and documentary,” specifies Moncef Dhouib.
Thanks to the Ministry of Education, access to educational institutions is easier. The CNC provides instructors, most of whom are graduates of higher film schools: they must be mainly cinematographers, picture specialists and editors. About ten of them are selected through calls for tender. In addition to their knowledge, they must have a driver’s license. In fact, the same instructors cross Tunisia with mobile units, in pairs, equipped with the equipment needed to carry out the project. Unflagging commitment on the part of “these 7th Ambassadors”e art” consisting of 5 females and 5 males (parity required).
This long-term work is done over several sessions and depending on the available schools. It consists of three phases: the first is done theoretically by introducing the basics of cinema through a detailed document that explains in detail the elementary rules of cinema. The 2e is the writing of the scenario and its illustration, individually but above all in groups. The 3e Stage allows students and participants to work in the field, go out and apply their knowledge under the watchful eyes of the trainer-teachers and with the approval of the students’ parents.
The project illustrates this connection between culture and artificial intelligence: culture, once oral and written, is now digitally transformable, accessible on online platforms and strong in its connectivity via tablets, the web and social networks. The project is part of its time and allows a better readability of the image: a crossroads that connects culture, education and technology.
“The project remains expensive: there are costs, but that’s how it worked structurally,” says Moncef Dhouib enthusiastically. He is keen to return for a new school tour and do a PostCovid reboot. The project is still looking for private financial support. A Thousand and One Films is a pioneer in the Mena region and its export to other countries is imminent. A legacy of this experience for future generations and its impact within the country and beyond remains essential.