If you haven’t seen boingboing today, check out this post linking to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s short film titled Despotism. As a side note, this film is housed, and available for download at the Internet Archive – a veritable treasure chest of historical films, images and other public-domain digital documents. These folks have a vision for the future of the digitizing of media that I whole-heartedly subscribe to- I mean, come on, their motto is “Universal Access to Human Knowledge”!
Additionally, their open source film library contains a vast number of films which have been uploaded by various individuals that are often re-mixed and re-edited versions of the archival movies available through the database which, in turn, become part of the online collection.
This begins to suggests tremendous possibilities for film classes that want to encourage students to engage in the construction of a filmic narrative within a rich, historical context of the medium. In fact, the movies available are often psuedo-documentary, educational/industrial shorts that would beautifully complement/supplement a film genres history class, to use one example. Just imagine it: students watch, consider, and then learn how to create films from the raw material of the archive that somehow reflect their understanding of the various genres through access to primary documents that help contextualize specific time periods. Wow, now that would be a class I would have died to take as an undergraduate!
Post script: I was asking myself right after posting – why limit it to film classes? – why not upper-level classes in sociology or economics or education or English or history …? I have to start thinking in more interdisciplinary terms if I ever want this stuff to get off the ground, this could be a project that would fit into just about any discipline given the right framework and support.