A lot of people explore the latent cinephile in them at an early age. Imagine a five-year-old child watching Pinocchio in an old theatre, packed with parents and kids. Heart-shaped ice-cream is clutched tightly in one hand- a grown-up's ice-cream, a special treat. It feels sad at first, then scared, happy as the story unfolds. The emotions are difficult to deal with, but they are also exhilarating. The magical roller-coaster ride of emotion paves the way for a growing relationship with cinema throughout the field of young minds which might end up motivating one in studying film studies.
Contrary to popular belief, film studies do not revolve around filmmaking or the technicalities of film production but are rather concerned with studying cinema in the same way that one would study art or literature. For example, the process involves not only examining the content of a film but also the set of its narrative, form, technical and aesthetical elements, and the socio-political, economic, historical, and cultural contexts in which it was made, among other things.
Ragib Shahriar, a fourth-year student of Television, Film and Photography at Dhaka University, believes "The spectrum of storytelling through films can be an effective tool-- not only by shaping the attitude or beliefs of a community but also by providing food for thought for different social issues around us."
The exceptional blend of 'hands-on' and theoretical curricula in a film studies degree provides learners with a liberal arts education while also offering them a specialised employable skill set applicable to the film industry, as well as an understanding of diverse cultures and numerous other soft skills.
This combination of characteristics will enable someone to pursue a wide range of careers, including those that are directly related to their degree as well as those that are indirectly related to it. Ragib mentions how the multilayered curriculum of film studies, such as -- business courses for film distribution, screenwriting, direction, animation, post-production or even courses related to journalism can be helpful to keep anyone relevant for the job market.
"I think, the diverse set of courses under one umbrella creates a shield of job security. With scopes lurking in the visual or writing field, the possibility of being out of the orbit of the job market is almost zero," he remarks.
Apart from gaining specific knowledge and skills, studying in film studies can also result in the acquisition of general, transferable skills like teamwork and leadership capabilities, critical thinking, organisational skills or communication skills. Anyone can put these skills to use in a variety of careers that are not directly related to their undergraduate degree.
Antara Farnaz Khan, a student of Economics and Social Sciences at BRAC University, is taking a documentary filmmaking course as part of her curriculum. Being the co-founder and chief operating officer of Oroddho Foundation, which works on gender-based violence, she believes films to have numerous potentials to splash a strong portrayal of social injustice, battling stereotypes or addressing social issues using the canvas of visual representation.
"By taking this course, I've stumbled upon a lot of new perspectives like ethics of documentary, editing or narrative style. This course is helping me to convey the goals of our organisation more effectively as I aim to make documentary films based on the cause we are fighting for."
In today's world, there are countless film studies programmes and courses being offered by universities and colleges all over the world, either as full-fledged programmes or as a subsection of a broader media studies programme.
Due to the fact that film studies is an academic discipline that has developed and been moulded by the critiques and cinematic analysis of academics, and people from the industry, there is no single common curriculum for the subject.
Antara, however, brings an important point mentioning how the passion for films is needed in order to dive deep into this subject. The benefits of studying film studies courses welcome not only those who wish to work in the industry but also those who are on streams like philosophy, sociology or cultural studies and are interested in cinema and wish to explore it deeper from these lenses.
The writer is a student of International Relations at the Bangladesh University of Professionals.