During my fabulous summer evenings, comforted by a warm breeze, while the children played in the garden, I had the chance to delve into reading a book with a very evocative title: Cinema and Family. Discovering Values through the Films of Our Lives, edited by Daniel Arasa, with contributions from several authors and film experts.

Mention is made of an award that began in 1996 in Spain, which is now turning 25 years old. The award is the “premios Familia” (“Family Awards”), given by the Grup d’Entitats Catalanes, in the CinemaNet section, to films and people in the film world who reflect human, familial, educational, social, and civic values in their work.

It was necessary to find a way to motivate and reward all those who somehow contribute to making films and series the perfect mediums to convey good values that make us more human and help us recognize our dignity. On the one hand, the award is all about giving value to their work; on the other hand, it is about supporting them and encouraging them to continue, in a world where we have to go against the grain.

How can we convey the value of forgiveness? How can we explain to society the benefits of having a tight-knit family? How do we show the world that a marriage can last a lifetime, despite adversity?

We have a crucial tool. It is the so-called “seventh art,” which is able to connect with the viewer and make him or her act, react, and even dream. It is a springboard that can be used for good or bad.

Through different authors’ pens, the book reviews the various factors that influence families that are capable of transcending the screen and reaching the heart of the viewer. It does so hand-in-hand with classic movies that some of us have seen dozens of times. Good cinema captures and generates feelings that elevate one’s spirit. In contrast, films that give a bad view of the family institution produce catastrophic results.

This was stated by Alfonso Méndiz, rector of the International University of Catalonia, in his paper on how t.v. series influence youth and families. Films can either be genuine masterpieces or the exact opposite. One example that stands out among the disasters is “Squid Game.” It is not a kid’s show, and parents need to take control of their children and keep them from being at the mercy of whatever the industry pushes their way. Parents should use protective search filters as needed.

An influential, highly vulnerable target are teenagers. Méndiz points out, for example, how detective series – which became trendy a few years ago – have had a considerable impact on youth, so much so that they even influence their choice of college. Or let’s think about the topic of suicide, which burst onto the big screen with “13 Reasons Why.” This is a sensitive topic _ particularly for teenagers who are starting to solidify their personalities on their own and do so, at times, with difficulty.

Both directors and parents have a huge responsibility. The latter can act as a filter between what the industry offers and what enters their homes. 

Parents today come from a time when authority was often exercised forcefully. The pendulum might now have swung entirely the other way. However, we must not skimp on our educational duty. This is affirmed by Mª Ángeles Almacellas, Ph.D., in her article “The Educational Tool of Film in the Family.”

She suggests that we make cineforums – meetings designed specifically to watch and discuss films together – fashionable again. It is an activity that makes us question what we watch.

Another topic that psychiatrist Marián Rojas never ceases to repeat – and which Almacellas brings to the fore – is that of getting used to postponing a reward. This is a choice that our society truly needs. We are immersed in the culture of immediacy, that has access to an abundance of different products and types of each one. Though, what seem to be solutions to our problems lead to further loneliness and confinement within ourselves.

Nacho Laguía, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Navarra, explains how Disney has changed the family. It is interesting to see that many of Disney’s classics omit the parents. Although there have been two theories about why that is, the one that seems most credited is that Walt Disney himself experienced the trauma of losing his mother, therefore it pours over into his films. We see, then, that behind the characters are people, with all their wounds and experiences, and these, for better or worse, affect cinema.

The cinematic experience, however, is much more than just watching a movie. Popcorn, the soundtrack, the screenplay, the actors… When all of these aspects are the best and come together, this is where we get a masterpiece.

The prestigious American Film Institute, in recent years, has placed the film It’s a Wonderful Life at the top of its list. It’s an aging film, but its values are timeless. There are movies that are re-released every Christmas and, from year to year, we see them as if it were the first time, even though we know them by heart.

What are the values that never go out of style and make a film a masterpiece? Forgiveness, friendship, family, loyalty, love: ingredients that positively influence the viewer. “Positive” is that which promotes growth in the humanity of the person. In contrast, negative actions are those that lead one to behave badly and be destructive.

That is why the awards given by Cinemanet are so important, as they are a breath of fresh air in the film industry, encouraging actors and directors to bring out the best in themselves and make core values “fashionable.”

Unfortunately, and in order not to lengthen an already extensive article, I cannot name all the authors in the book, but I do include them somewhat in the two conclusions I have drawn from the book. Let’s watch movies again as a family, putting effort into setting up the whole movie night so that it’s a unique experience. Let’s also be careful what films we choose to watch, which could be up for debate. This debate could be a kind of “home cineforum,” which makes everyone stop and think for a second, a behavior we desperately need these days.


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