Ensuring Well-Being in the Screen Age. A Partnership Supporting the Inclusive Use of Cinematic Experiences in Health, Education, and Society

The pur­pose of this part­ner­ship project is to con­sol­i­date and extend a research pro­gram found­ed in 2018 under the name CINEX at Lab­o­ra­toire CinéMé­dias of the Uni­ver­sité de Mon­tréal on the func­tion and poten­tial ben­e­fits of the cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ence with­in dif­fer­ent con­texts (such as at home, at school, before sleep, in the health sys­tem) and in rela­tion to mar­gin­al­ized pop­u­la­tions (chil­dren, the elder­ly, the visu­al­ly impaired). Gath­er­ing a diverse, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary group of experts from sev­en coun­tries, the CINEXMEDIA part­ner­ship aims to pro­duce orig­i­nal research and col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tives that will impact the fields of edu­ca­tion and health through inno­v­a­tive uses of screens and cin­e­ma in par­tic­u­lar teach­ing and care contexts.

This part­ner­ship responds to a crit­i­cal need: the estab­lish­ment of a the­o­ret­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal and empir­i­cal reflec­tion on cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ences and screen-based con­tent for use in pub­lic insti­tu­tions, as well as the study, from an inter­sec­toral per­spec­tive, of the under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples— such as rhythm—that struc­ture these expe­ri­ences. It will pro­vide a new gen­er­a­tion of researchers with the train­ing, tools and resources nec­es­sary to study the com­mon denom­i­na­tor of the screen age, the cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ence, in all its aspects (cog­ni­tive, neu­ro­log­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, phys­i­cal, cul­tur­al, aes­thet­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal). Sim­i­lar­ly, through the com­ple­men­tary nature of their visions, needs and spe­cif­ic exper­tise, part­ners as well as researchers from relat­ed fields (notably in edu­ca­tion and health sci­ences) will con­tribute to recon­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ence and to bet­ter under­stand the role and place of screens in our dig­i­tal soci­eties, through the imple­men­ta­tion of inno­v­a­tive inter­sec­toral research approach­es. Our research on dig­i­tal co-view­ing envi­ron­ments will also help to counter iso­la­tion expe­ri­enced by cer­tain pop­u­la­tions, while research and activ­i­ties in the use of audio descrip­tion tech­niques and inclu­sive media will increase the acces­si­bil­i­ty of screen-based con­tent for dif­fer­ent groups of view­ers gen­er­al­ly mar­gin­al­ized by the audio­vi­su­al econ­o­my. All of these ini­tia­tives are thus part of an inclu­sive and inter­sec­toral approach to the cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ence to study the psy­cho-social, ped­a­gog­i­cal and ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fits as well as to set clear para­me­ters aimed at improv­ing the well-being of our pop­u­la­tions, at a time when expo­sure to screens and audio­vi­su­al media has increased considerably.

The two research focus­es of the partnership—“The Sci­ence of Screens” and “Inclu­sive Cinema”—encompass a broad range of research ques­tions that will pro­duce ground­break­ing knowl­edge on the ben­e­fits of cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ences as well as on the effects of screens and mov­ing image media on health, edu­ca­tion and soci­ety. Allow­ing for the cross-inte­gra­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic and field research, the part­ner­ship will serve to bridge the gaps between, on the one hand, image and screen sci­ences and less stud­ied con­texts of the recep­tion as well as, on the oth­er, between the health and edu­ca­tion sci­ences and the human­i­ties. The first research focus—“The Sci­ence of Screens”—aims to inte­grate new dis­ci­plines into the study of the effects and ben­e­fits of cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ences, by exam­in­ing the way the health sci­ences have typ­i­cal­ly approached this ques­tion. The sec­ond research focus—“Inclusive Cinema”—will study the inte­gra­tion of cin­e­ma and audio­vi­su­al tech­nolo­gies in dif­fer­ent areas of soci­ety. This research focus, which con­sists in research, field work, out­reach activ­i­ties and the devel­op­ment of pro­to­cols for use in dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions, will focus on three under­ex­plored con­texts in the use of cin­e­mat­ic expe­ri­ences and visu­al lit­er­a­cy learn­ing: non-uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions (pri­ma­ry schools, sec­ondary schools, CEGEPs); health insti­tu­tions (such as nurs­ing homes or long-term care facil­i­ties); mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties (such as peo­ple with a hear­ing or visu­al impairment).