Anna de Paoli founds Film Macht Schule, a film literacy initiative

Sophie Charlotte Rieger
Sophie Charlotte Rieger

How Anna de Paoli and Joya Thome bring the passion for cinema to schools

In 2018 at Filmfest Munich, producer Anna de Paoli received the "Förderpreis Neues Deutsches Kino" for her movie A Young Man With High Potential. Instead of using this money to start a new film project, she founded the initiative Film macht Schule ("Meet the Filmmakers") : She sent German filmmakers, among them Joya Thome (Queen of Niendorf), to schools to share their passion for cinema with children and teenagers. One year later, de Paoli was back at the Filmfest to present her project to the audience. EWA blogger Sophie Charlotte Rieger met her and Joya Thome for an interview to talk about their project and its future.

Anna, you founded “Film macht Schule”. Where did the idea come from and why did you decide to use your price money to finance it?

Anna: In April 2018 there had been a congress on the future of German cinema in Frankfurt. It was closely connected to four ideas that Edgar Reitz had pinned out in 2016, one of them was about film education. I eagerly embraced this idea because I have always been interested in supporting the next generation. So this topic was very present when I received the price at Filmfest Munich. And I immediately thought: Great, now I have 20.000 Euro and this is what I am going to do with it! This is a chance to support filmmakers who, from my point of view, have proven to enrich German cinema with their art. They have so much to hand over to the next generation.

Film Macht Schule group by AlexanderJanetzko

Did you tell them what to “hand over”?

Anna: I was convinced that to inspire the children and teenagers, the filmmakers themselves have to decide how to do it. This creates a different kind of identification. The kids can tell if you are just following a script.

Why is film education so important? Kids watch movies all the time anyways, aren’t they?

Joya: Of course they consume all kinds of media. The workshops are not only about getting to know the movie theater as a location, but also about the people behind it. Especially for children who do not know anyone working in the industry, it has an enormous impact to get in touch with filmmakers. Whereas if you have no one to look up to, it’s very difficult to say: I want to work in film!

Anna: And it is also about creation itself, the artistic process. There is a big difference between a project with an artistic attitude and commercial products, which in the end of the day are made to be consumed like a piece of toast.

How did you put your team together. I noticed that most of the filmmakers involved were women.

Anna: When I received the price I immediately thought about a bunch of people who would be great for this project. And guess what: They were mostly women. It just happened that way because they are great artists. But there were also two men in the group.

Joya, what was your personal motivation to take part in this project?

Joya: I really liked Anna’s idea: We have a certain budget, a bunch of filmmakers and they can do with it whatever they want to as long as they can serve as an inspiration for the kids. Also I was between two projects and could use the money. Anna was always very clear on that: This mustn’t be one of these projects that require unpaid work for weeks. It should not be exploitative in any way. But apart from that, I also just love to work with children.

What did you come up with for your workshop?

Joya: When I was 13 I attended the Kinderfilmfest at Berlinale for the first time. I was in the cinema with a thousand people. There was a huge screen and after the screening the actors and actresses came to the stage and answered questions from the audience. This experience was so exciting and had a huge impact on me. I wanted to provide that same experience to other people.

I happened to know a lot of youngsters with an interest in filmmaking from the Brandenburg area, because that’s where I had casted for my movie “Queen of Niendorf”. I put together a small group and we went to Berlin together to spend a day at Berlinale. We watched a film, which I had chosen before, and afterwards had the opportunity to talk with the director and the cast. The group was thrilled about this encounter and I was thrilled about them being thrilled. Even for me it was a very special day.

So what’s the future of this project?

Anna: That’s why we’re here in Munich, to present it and to find partners. There are a few possibilities. Film schools could provide support. This is actually one of Edgar Reitz’ ideas: Every film student has to do a full year of voluntary service in a school. But I think you have to be careful with that: As soon as you force someone to do that, it’s not going to work. You could recommend it though. Also festivals could help by giving winners 1000 Euro on top if they agree to do one of these workshops. From my point of you, this should be interesting for a lot of people. It’s in investment in the next generation of filmmakers, a way to get in touch with new talents but also with future cinema audiences. I think even for a company it’s a great opportunity and also an image factor.

Joya Thome and Anna de Paoli