Film, technology, games and canapes

Lord Puttnam in Birmingham.
Screen WM Event at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
10th June 2009

It was reassuring to hear Lord Puttnam speak. What an asset he is for the industry and for those who care about film.

In particular, I enjoyed his emphasis on the social role of film. It's so easy to fall in with the prophets of technological progress, innovation, and digital skills, as though these are a worthy end in themselves; as though we could eliminate poverty through digital equality and having more gadgets.

(Across most of Africa 97% of the population is not online.)

Lord Puttnam reminded us of need for a prior engagement with community and citizenship which might be supported by the dream of improved communications; social connection rather than fascist exclusion.

Also resonant for me in his speech was the notion of global dialogues and environmental issues. He was looking to the new, younger generations to raise awareness and understanding. He appeared to be critical of the lack of adequate rewards for filmmakers and the poor system for distribution beyond the mainstream. Cheaper technologies offered astonishing opportunities, but we still need to learn the craft. It's one thing to give people literacy, another thing learning how to use it for social profit. Again, it's not just having technology, its the context in which it is materialised that matters.

He welcomed the 'gaming' community but appeared to question whether they had so far discovered a founding genius who would take them to another level.

The gaming panel explored also the social and educational aspects of gaming and opportunities that may exist for innovative collaboration. I feel that there is still a great wall here for non-youth non-specialists whose perception of gaming is boys and violence and bad role models and short attention spans and repetitive strain injury and ....

It was particularly helpful to hear about some of C4's 14-19 projects as a useful corrective against the demonisation of gaming. The evening concluded with credit crunch wine, canapes and networking.


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