Filmosophy for Families: Film, Philosophy and Curiosity

Lola Mckinnon //

We asked Lola Mckinnon, Acting Programme Manager at Showroom Cinema, to tell us more about their upcoming season of family films and philosophy workshops as part of Film Feels Curious.

When presented with this year’s Film Feels theme – Curious – the scope seemed incredibly vast. For me, cinema is curiosity. It’s a desire to experience the world through the perspectives of others, taking curious trips to unknown places, and actively seeking out stories beyond the realms of your lived experience.

Cinemagoing is an intrinsically curious act.

I thought about the conversations, ideas and interests that film watching has sparked and the conversations about cinema which have persisted and pervaded far beyond the cinema walls. One vivid memory that lingers for me is of watching The Truman Show for the first time in school and feeling blown away by its power. Watching the film with classmates and having the opportunity to discuss and digest collectively only enhanced the impact that the film had on my ways of thinking about themes of media, reality TV, fame and beyond. It had a profound effect on the way I felt – and still feel - about existing in the world and in hindsight I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to unpack those thoughts and feelings collectively in a safe, shared space. What I didn’t realise at the time was that those deep, critical and affirming conversations we’d been having were in fact philosophy!

We’re delighted to be partnering with Thinking Space on Filmosophy for Families at Showroom Cinema this July to get children and families from across South Yorkshire curious about some of life’s biggest questions – using four fantastic family films as the launchpad to engage in fun and interactive philosophical conversations through a series of Filmosophy workshops. Thinking Space draw on philosophical methods and concepts to stimulate, support and sustain public philosophy projects – especially within communities facing disadvantage. Their experienced philosophers support children and adults from diverse backgrounds to explore the issues that matter most to them, developing their critical, curious and creative thinking alongside the confidence needed to communicate their ideas more clearly.

We have selected four films which raise ideas of philosophy and curiosity in different ways, from themes of friendship to hope, prejudice to fame, humans versus nature, and much more. We’ll be taking a philosophical voyage through the series of films, encouraging families to spend some quality time together getting curious about the world around them, using film to spark creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

The season kicks off with the classic family favourite The Secret Garden (1993), a stunning adaptation of the timeless Francis Hodgson Burnett tale, exploring the restorative powers of nature, curiosity, nurturing and friendship. We’ll then stop off at Ernest and Celestine (2012), the cosy, heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship between a bear and a young mouse, to delve into themes of discrimination, prejudice and identity. Next up is Liyana (2017)– a powerful, genre-defying documentary that celebrates the healing power of storytelling and the imaginations of children, exploring philosophical themes of dreams, survival, resilience and empathy. Finally, we’ll revisit The Truman Show (1998), which has gained an eery prescience in recent years with the rise of reality TV and pervasive technologies. The story of an insurance salesman who gradually realises that his entire life is an elaborate reality show, broadcast to the world, we’ll sink our teeth into philosophical themes such as truth and fiction, authenticity, fame and media ethics.

In today’s world, developing confident, critical and curious thinking skills is more important than ever, and the accessible medium of film can provide the perfect launchpad for diving into some of life’s biggest and most complex questions. We hope that families will leave these Filmosophy sessions with a newfound curiosity for film and the ways in which it can open up new ways of thinking, learning and living together.

Filmosophy for Families runs at Showroom Cinema, Sheffield from Saturday 2nd July until Saturday 23rd July. Tickets are now on sale. All tickets are £4.50.