a film project

Project summary

In 2007, students from ELIA member schools in seven countries participated in the film project "The Language of the Arts and Intercultural Dialogue". In a variety of styles, from documentary to drama, stop-trick and cartoon animation to wordless art film, each contributed a short film that dealt with the theme of intercultural dialogue from their own artistic and personal standpoint. As a learning process for what the artist is up to facing the challenges of the present, the project included two preparatory seminars and one summing-up seminar, which addressed such issues as modernity in a multicultural world, the art of filmmaking, and the question: what is to be done?

Directed by Danish filmmaker Ove Nyholm, the result of this was the 45-minute film compilation ...I see you, which premiered at the film festival in Torino in November 2007, and was the subject of lively discussion at the The Arts as Dialogue? symposium in Gothenburg (10th ELIA Biennial).

Background concept

"In short, it seems that we are both outside and inside modernity, both repelled by its deadly violence and seduced by its most immodest aspiration or potential: that there might, after all, be a common planetary horizon for all the living and the dead."
- Roger Buergel, artistic director of Documenta 12

Artistic practice has been – and still is – part of an often painful learning process in the context of which the issue of cultural differences is addressed and shared. However, art and culture do not rest innocently outside the constellation of phenomena that we have learned to refer to as “modernism”. Regardless of whether it was created in the name of a nation, revolution, superiority or truth, artistic production has always taken sides, radicalising and reflecting a basic experience of cultural differences that can be found in abundance in the history of Europe and beyond.

Method of working


Following a “call” among higher arts education institutions and art universities in Europe, seven art and film schools were selected. The participating schools were: the University of the Arts Berlin (Germany), the École Supérieure de l’Image in Angoulême (France), Hogeschool Gent (Belgium), Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo (Norway), the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow (United Kingdom), the Universidad de Castilla – La Mancha (Spain), and Vysoká Skola Výtvarných Umení Bratislava (Slovakia).
The schools themselves selected the students and supervising teachers that would be participating in the project.

The methodological aim was to provide the students with relevant knowledge to enable them to reflect on the theme both theoretically and artistically. Two seminars were organised in the framework of the Berlinale and Documenta 12. Those seminars gave them an opportunity to network, to discuss the progress of their work and to share experiences. A reader with relevant texts was compiled for the occassion. The seminars were filmed as well and delivered material for the final film.

Throughout the whole process, the role of the film director has been that of a supervisor and a consultant, working closely with the students and their teachers and giving advice on each film. This working relationship fostered the artistic growth of each of the film students and encouraged the students to bring their best work into the project.


In several respects, this project stands as an example of new and innovative approaches in art and arts education:
  • As a product of international cooperation and orientation;
  • As an example of a thematic approach, equipping students to confront artistically the demands of the present;
  • As a blend of artistic theory and practice.

To document this, ELIA and the University of the Arts Berlin have produced a publication which presents a choice of papers from the seminars, reflections on the project, and the films themselves through interviews with the young filmmakers. The book ...I see you: The Language of the Arts and Intercultural Dialogue has been presented at the CHEAD conference in Berlin, 17-20 March 2009, and at the 4th ELIA Teachers' Academy in Sofia, 1-4 July 2009.

For questions regarding the publication, please contact

Partners in the project:

Stichting A Lab
Lab 105
Overhoeksplein 2
1031KS Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Phone nr. +31(0)20 330 1116
Email: info@elia-artschools.org

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