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Film Study for a better future | LXL Ideas, EO Bangalore

Updated: Apr 7

Many societies across the world view education as a right, a necessary aspect of life. All over the world, we have seen private and public institutions advocating for educational rights for children. The 4th UN SDG acknowledges that education plays apart in “ (increasing) the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”.

SDG number 4 acknowledges that that education and employment go together, and traditional thinking aligns quite nicely with this notion. People enter into educational systems, and over several years, acquire knowledge and skills that will allow them to ultimately find good jobs in the workforce. SDG number 4 also looks to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. In a nutshell, this constitutes to learning lessons that fall outside of traditional math, science, and linguistics- lessons that are necessary for building a better world. Where LXL Ideas operates is in educating in a non-traditional sense, providing services that you may not find in a school curriculum.

LXL Ideas has been operating in the educational space of South Asia and The Middle East for the better part of two decades. The years of experience have been guided by the desire to impact learning through life lessons. To understand this, we looked toward LXLs managing director Syed Sultan Ahmed and his philosophies on education.

*tedx video*

Standardized school curriculum and testing has become a hot topic around the world, especially when it comes to what knowledge is truly retained. The argument of what constitutes learning, what kids need to learn, and how to learn it is still debated today. Arguments on learning usually center on linguistics, math, and sciences, and how these form the curriculum. What gets lost in all of the arguments about studies is the life lessons outside of the classroom that students still need to learn.

LXL Ideas comes in as a company with a strong desire to teach via experience, putting the focus back on life and learning how to live. Syed has worked for more than two decades to transform education, transforming it through 4 brands. Through these brands, he and his team of over 200 are taking education to new heights.

One of the most effective tools that LXL has put to masterful use is the art of cinema. Under their brand Cinema School, LXL has created the infrastructure for kids to learn about life. Though the company works out of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, they have turned to Bollywood to create over 150 short films specifically for kids.

Where Cinema School innovates is not just in the use of short films, but in the creation of complex, but relatable short films. The original material that they developed over the years covers a number of topics that extend beyond the classroom. The subjects are quite diverse, from dealing with friendships, to parental expectations, to finding your place in the world, among others. All the material that Cinema School utilizes are shown at the appropriate grade level so that the message is most relatable, and most relevant for the class.

The films aren’t simply shown, but are also discussed in a classroom setting. It wouldn’t be Cinema School if it was just a film viewing, now would it? After the film viewing follows a round of discussions, guided by the teachers who know what lessons to zero-in on. These sessions allow the students to reflect as a group, discussing these topics together, all framed against the lessons of the film. Apart from that, Cinema School also produces themed workbooks for the students to have individual introspection in the form of a written learning experience.

The entire brand has been termed as a pedagogical experiment, but in reality, Cinema School has created much more than just a classroom experience. Through the process of creating the brand, Cinema School has become the biggest producer of children’s short films in all of India, with over 150 titles produced by the company. Their managing director Syed Sultan Ahmed told us that he’s incredibly proud of the way that the brand has been able to address the topics that they have. In his time producing films, he has found that their films are resonating very well with both students who see it, as well as the teachers & parents. In that time, he’s seen that the issues relating to a shared humanity are the most engaging with kids. When differences are clearly contrasted, humanity shines the most.

LXL Ideas isn’t solely constrained to managing Cinema School. Their other cinema related endeavor, The International Kids Film Festival, is a brand that like Cinema School, leverages the power of film for young people. Over the years, the films that LXL produced have made their way to film festivals across the world. Something that became apparent over the years was that these festivals seldomly had children in attendance, even if the movies were made for their consumption. Syed Sultan Ahmed figured that maybe the traditional concept doesn’t work for the kids. He posited that if he brought the film festival to the schools, these excellent films would be seen by the children they were meant for through IKFF.

The democratization of film festivals lies at the heart of IKFF by making the festival less about pomp, and more about the films themselves. The IKFF team partners with schools across the world to showcase the best children’s films from around the world, not just India. IKFF is inspired by the philosophies that School Cinema subscribes to, especially when it comes to harnessing the power of film. The difference however lies in the methods they employ to generate a truly unique experience. The brand has been operating for a little over two years now, utilizing a methodology of Watch, Learn, and Make. Watch By taking a curated selection of films to these partner schools, the children get to see films that are impactful, in a familiar setting. Bringing these films into the everyday school environments takes away many of the barriers that traditional film fests, especially in terms of accessibility. In 2018, IKFF took place over the course of a week, showing over a hundred films in over 2000 auditoriums and classrooms across 20 countries, with some 2 million students participating.

Learn The film festival extends beyond viewing, and into the realm of learning the art of filmmaking. In the advent of smartphones and social media, content creation is becoming a part of what constitutes standard communications nowadays. Where IKFF’s Learning portion comes in is by guiding these students through a month-long online course that takes them through the core elements of filmmaking, without necessarily going to film school. Through this online based learning, the kids will learn how to write scripts, plan shoots, edit their work, and release a final product online. The learning takes place via an app, allowing students to learn wherever and whenever they can. Here, kids can get a film school education, without the need for highly technical equipment or deep level exposure to the industry that usually accompanies it. Make After learning how to make films, the students can submit their finished films to the film making competition part of the festival. These films are judged by a professional jury, receiving critique and cash prizes, just like in traditional film fests. These student-made films also get the opportunity to travel to film festivals outside of their home country.

Through these two brands, LXL Ideas is taking education into the future through film and film making. This kind of focus on soft skilling outside of the hard curriculum based learning innovates where few schools, let alone companies dare to venture. Though many have branded LXL as an events company, they are very much in the business of changing what education can be, one film at a time.

The endeavors of Syed Sultan Ahmed and his team are breathing life back into what learning can be, blazing their own path in the educational world. Over the course of next few years, their insights into how children learn, coupled with the credibility and connections they have created, will continue to impact the way millions of kids learn around the world. Even though some educators may not see how valuable this kind of holistic learning can be, the reality is that there is always more than one way to learn. Sometimes, one only needs to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show to do so.

LXL Ideas also has two other brands under their belt that also deal with education, namely Krayon and Mentor. Under Krayon, LXL handles a number of kid related events from spelling bees to talent contests. Under Mentor, they publish some of the best practices from educational experts to spread more technical knowledge in this industry across India. You can follow their journey to changing educational systems through their website, or on Facebook.


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