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DMU film experts get creative in engaging students online


Online film chats and live ‘tweet-alongs’ are among the creative ways in which academics at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are keeping students engaged during lockdown.

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Fittingly named Covideodrome, Film Studies experts Dr Ellen Wright, Dr Matt Jones and Ulrike Kubatta have been hosting an online ‘film club’ on Zoom every Monday since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted term time.

Inspired by a popular film reviewing module run by Dr Jones, Covideodrome brings together students, graduates, staff and other film scholars internationally to discuss a wide range of films and shows streamed on Netflix and MUBI.

Voted for and chosen by students each week, some of the films and shows discussed to date have included Ladybird, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tiger King.

Dr Wright said: “You don’t realise until you’re in this situation that some students are stranded away from their homes and countries or can’t return due to strained family relationships.

“I feel a big sense of responsibility and I’m very proud to be in a position to support them in this way. Wellbeing is a really big part of the university experience.”

Dr Jones said: “I love the openness these sessions bring. We promote them through our personal social media channels, so they not only attract current students and staff, but also colleagues from all over the world. This broad input really enhances the student experience.”

Master’s student Harry Abbot is at a high risk from coronavirus and has been shielding at home since the start of lockdown.

“Taking part in Covideodrome has helped me to connect with the outside world and remember that there’s more out there than just the four walls around me,” said the 23-year-old from Leicester.

“Isolation can affect your mental health but this has given me something to look forward to each week. The fact that our tutors have created a sense of community for us online really shows their passion for the subject and how much they care about student wellbeing.”

Having set up and led a film writing group for students during his undergraduate degree at DMU, Harry was invited to host a recent Covideodrome session looking at the film Vox Lux.

He said: “It was my favourite film of 2019 so Ulrike suggested that I lead on it. The sessions are free-flowing and everyone bounces off each other, so it was a fun opportunity.

“Other than my parents and fiancé, I’ve not had much contact with anyone else during lockdown, so it’s been nice to talk to other people. We have proper in-depth conversations which I really enjoy, but you never feel out of your depth and it’s always a very welcoming environment.”

The DMU academics have also been running live ‘tweet-alongs’ on Twitter each week. Students chose what to watch on Film4 and then tweet along live using #DMUFilmTweetalong. Their choices so far have included Paddington, Short Circuit and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Dr Jones said: “Community is really important to us and we’re a very close-knit group at DMU, both colleagues and students. This extends beyond our lectures and seminars and is about being part of the wider scholarly community.

“We actively encourage and engage in debate, so providing a safe digital space to accommodate these valuable exchanges during a time like this is an essential part of our students’ education.”

Posted on Friday 12th June 2020

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