A few months ago The National Film Museum of the Czech Republic invited us to a very exciting Czech film festival to present the Media Education work we are doing on an Industry Program panel, plus deliver a Real or Fake? workshop with educators. As we are super keen to learn about Media Education in other parts of the world outside of Canada - AND I had never been to the Czech Republic - I enthusiastically accepted the invitation!

And what a trip it was…. The Czech Republic has such an interesting and rich history, with Prague at the heart of some of the most beautiful buildings, neighbourhoods and cityscapes I’ve ever seen. I took a few days to explore Prague before heading east to the festival, soaking up the sights, beautiful music, and tasty Czech treats, including ice cream in a doughnut spiral?? (Review: AMAZING!)

Myself and UK-based Dan Mayfield from School of Noise (the other invited international guest) took a 3-hour train ride from Prague to Uherské Hradiště where the film festival was being held, and I couldn’t believe what a big festival it was! This year was the 45th annual event, with 5000+ attendees, guests, filmmakers, film students, journalists and professors flooding this small town each year. So many outdoor and indoor screenings, experimental film events, panels, and merchandise booths in a compound-style space with cafés, beer gardens, vintage clothing booths and even a prosecco bar? A super lively and fun environment which I honestly was not prepared for, as I’ve never seen anything like this in Canada or the US.

The following day was my time to present our work on the Media Education panel, hosted by Táňa Abrhámová of One World in Schools, and including Miroslav Hanus from Fakescape, a cool media literacy & critical thinking game designed by University students to inform youth about fake news.

It was on this panel that I learned that teachers in the Czech Republic are encouraged NOT to discuss media literacy or media education with their students because it is seen as “too political” for the classroom. This tells me that Media Education is seriously needed here (and very possibly in other Central European nations) to help demystify for school administrators what, in fact, media education really is, and how critical it is for all of their teachers and students.

Our Real or Fake? Online Information Verification Workshop was really fun, although 2 hours was a bit tight for everyone to complete their Public Service Announcement or Fake News video clip. We had a full house of 20 participants aged 7 - 70 years old! I’m used to working with iPads for our workshops, and while I brought 4 with me for folks to use, I learned that iPads aren’t really a thing in the Czech Republic. PC computers were the clear favourite, so instead we used Movie Maker to create their video projects.

A huge thank you to Terezie, Jakub & Adela of The National Film Museum in Prague for the invitation, and for being such gracious hosts. I cannot wait to return, and I look forward to working with you again in the near future!

-Jessie

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