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OU and BFI announce new partnership with programme of short film courses


The British Film Institute (BFI) @BFI and The Open University (OU) @OpenUniversity are delighted to announce a new partnership, with the first offering being three stand-alone short courses aimed at those with a keen interest in film and the media: Reading the screen: an introduction to the art of film and Media, Politics and Society launch in October this year, while A Story of Documentary Film, runs in May 2022. These courses will be hosted on the Open University’s bespoke online learning platform and involve six weeks of study. All three courses have been produced collaboratively between the OU and the BFI. 

The partnership plays on the strengths and expertise of both organisations. BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, and education and digital access are at the core of the our strategy. BFI  is also the home to one of the largest and most important film and television archive collections in the world, and these courses will bring a new generation of learners close to some of the BFI National Archive’s most significant treasures, with a broad range of film and moving image drawn from the national collection represented in each course.  

The OU’s wealth of knowledge and experience in online, distance learning, delivering quality courses, from short and free learning right up to PhDs for over half a century, makes it the perfect vehicle for this journey of discovery. These courses have been designed to encourage a worldwide audience to engage in flexible learning. 

In Reading the screen: an Introduction to the art of film, by studying a range of films – short, global, experimental and animated – learners will consider the moving image from an exciting range of perspectives: how filmmakers hide and reveal content using onscreen and offscreen space; how place and time fulfil crucial roles in the language of film; and how filmmakers balance reality and fiction when creating their stories. As with all the courses, there will be examples drawn from the very earliest films made in the UK. 

In Media, Politics and Society the course will enhance learners’ understanding of the relationship between media, politics, and society; the impact of the media on politics and society; and how this relationship translates to outcomes in society. Exploring key themes of propaganda, moral panic, media and memory, and fake news, the course will also provide an introduction to media theory, to better understand the key cultural and political dynamics that impact everyday life via the media. 

Study for both will be enriched by audio and video content and there will be regular activities and a chance to debate in discussion forums. Each course will be supported by study advisors and individual UK learners will also gain free access to  BFI Player, the BFI’s video on-demand streaming service,for a three-month period. 

Registrations are now open to both courses. Registration closes on 16 September with courses beginning in October. 

Prof Ian Fribbance, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at the OU, said:

“We’re delighted to forge this fantastic collaboration with the BFI to enable greater public understanding of the world of film, TV and documentary for a wide and international audience. Bringing the OU’s famous world-leading online teaching methods together with BFI’s renowned film expertise and world-class resources will prove to be a great benefit to everyone interested in film, and complements the efforts of both organisations to sustain and support the UK’s vital creative industries.”

Leigh Adams, BFI Director of Education and Learning said:

“Thirty years ago the BFI and the OU worked together on a hugely influential set of materials and courses concerning film and media; we are delighted that through this new agreement we are able to renew our collaboration, bringing new generations of learners to enjoy and explore the world’s richest moving image archive.  The world has moved on since 1990, but some of the questions and issues – around truth and falsehood, representation, the magic of storytelling – are still current.  We hope this collaboration will renew and reinvigorate the study of this amazing medium.”


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