Il-filmini, metodu ta’ katekeżi li saħħar tant tfal

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Il-bidu

Bosta nies ta’ ċerta età jieħdu gost jitkellmu dwar il-memorji ta’ tfulithom meta kienu jattendu fis-Soċjetà tal-MUSEUM. Fir-rakkonti tagħhom arahom isemmu l-Membri li għallmuhom, il-ħarġiet tal-Ħadd u xi aneddoti li għadhom jiftakru. X’aktarx li jsemmu wkoll il-filmini li l-katekisti kienu juruhom.

Għal aktar minn 50 sena, dawn il-filmini kienu għodda tassew utli fil-katekeżi li kienet tingħata fl-Oqsma tal-MUSEUM. Fil-fatt bdew jintużaw aktar minn 70 sena ilu meta xi membri li kienu vaganza f’Turin fl-Italja ta’ fuq intlaqtu mill-filmini li kienu jipproduċu s-Sależjani ta’ Don Bosco u bdew iġibuhom u jagħtuhom lill-Oqsma.

Soċju tal-MUSEUM li mill-bidu beda juża l-filmini kien Ċikku Camilleri (1908-1984) li kien il-president tal-Kummisjoni tal-Kultura tas-Soċjetà. Kull nhar ta’ Tnejn, kmieni filgħaxija, kien jagħmel laqgħa għall-adulti fil-kappella magħrufa bħala Tad-Dawl f’raħal twelidu, Ħaż-Żebbuġ. B’dak l-entużjażmu tiegħu, Ċikku kien dejjem juri filmin waqt il-laqgħa, b’gost kbir għan-nies miġbura fil-kappella.

Soċju ieħor li jiġina f’moħħna hu Nazju Azzopardi (1920-2004) mir-Rabat, li kien ukoll membru tal-Kummissjoni tal-Kultura. Nazju kien imur minn Qasam għal ieħor jgħallem il-katekiżmu lit-tfal u l-adolexxenti, ħafna drabi permezz ta’ xi filmin. Kellu leħen partikulari u melodjuż, u dan kien jgħin biex it-tfal jisimgħuh fi skiet perfett b’għajnejhom imsammrin fuq il-liżar abjad jew fuq il-ħajt ta’ quddiemhom fejn kienu jidhru l-istampikuluriti.

X’kien il-filmin?

Il-filmin kien magħmul minn serje ta’ stampi dwar tema partikulari. Kien il-predeċessur tal-powerpoint tal-lum u kien tassew jagħti l-ħajja lil-lezzjoni. It-tfal kienu jistennewh għax kien mezz li jsaħħar fil-katekeżi. Meta mbagħad l-istorja kienet tkun imqassma f’episodji, kien ikollhom kurżità kbira kif din se tkompli. 

L-istampi kienu jiġu proġettati fuq l-iskrin wara xulxin bħalma jsir fil-powerpoint. Il-pellikola tal-filmin kienet tiġi mqabbda ma’ rukkell immuntat fuq quddiem tal-projector u tgħaddi minn wara ħġieġa għal rukkell ieħor aktar ’l isfel.

Il-katekist seta’ jaqleb minn stampa għal oħra billi jdawwar ir-rukkell bil-mod. Kien jara li l-istampi jqegħedhom rashom ’l isfel biex jidhru sew fuq l-iskrin. Il-qies tal-istampi fil-verżjonijiet tal-bidu kien ta’ 24mm iżda ’l quddiem żdied għal 35mm.

Librerija tal-filmini

Hekk kif bdew jinxtraw aktar filmini, dak li beda fuq inizjattiva individwali sar il-prattika ġenerali fl-Oqsma kollha tal-MUSEUM f’Malta u Għawdex. Nhar ta’ Erbgħa, meta s-Soċji u l-Kandidati kienu jiltaqgħu għal-Laqgħa Ġenerali fil-Blata l-Bajda, il-membri mid-diversi Oqsma kienu jikru l-filmini għal ġimgħa jew tnejn bi ħlas minimu ta’ sitt soldi għal kull filmin. Il-kamra żgħira tal-Ġunta tal-Kultura kienet armata b’numru sabiħ ta’ filmini kompluti bil-libretti bit-Taljan. Diversi Oqsma, kif ukoll xi membri individwali, ma damux ma bdew jibnu l-librerija tagħhom tal-filmini. Meta aktar tard infetħet il-librerija Preca viċin is-sala fejn kienet issir il-Laqgħa Ġenerali, flimkien mal-kotba u l-oġġetti reliġjużi bdew jinbiegħu wkoll il-filmini.

Il-filmini kienu jkopru ħafna suġġetti, minn stejjer tal-Bibbja u temi tal-katekiżmu sa tagħlim tal-Knisja, liturġija, ħajjiet tal-qaddisin u saħansitre ħrejjef ta’ Esopo. It-tfal kienu juri interess qawwi għall-istejjer li jkomplu bħal dik ta’ ‘Bambo’, avventura missjunarja f’20 episodju li fiha nfisha kienet katekiżmu bl-istampi. ‘Selim Bey’, serje ta’ 10 filmini, u ‘Il-Kavallier l-Iswed’, serje ta’ 4 filmini, kienu fost l-iktar popolari. Ipprovdew kuntest tajjeb għat-tagħlim reliġjuż u l-formazzjoni fil-fidi.

Mill-filmin Il-Buffu tal-Madonna

Maż-żmien il-filmini ta’ natura purament kateketika saru element komuni fil-klassijiet tal-Museum. Fis-sajf il-‘lecture’, kif kienet tissejjaħ il-lezzjoni bil-filmin, seta’ jsir fil-bitħa jew fuq il-bejt tal-Qasam tal-MUSEUM biex it-tfal ikunu jistgħu jgawdu l-filmin fiż-żiffa ħelwa ta’ filgħaxija. Il-katekist kien iċempel qanpiena ċkejkna bħala sinjal lit-tifel li jkun qed iħaddem il-projector biex jgħaddi għall-istampa ta’ warajha.

Użu varju tal-filmini

Il-filmini kienu ideali biex jitwassal it-tagħlim dwar l-istaġuni tal-liturġija. B’mod partikulari r-Randan kien joffri opportunità biex kull nhar ta’ Ġimgħa jiġi spjegat ir-rakkont tal-Passjoni.  Kienet ukoll ħaġa komuni li fil-Ħdud tar-Randan ir-rakkont tal-Passjoni jiġi mwassal b’mod dettaljat mis-Soċji waqt il-konferenzi li kienu jsiru filgħaxija fid-diversi rħula ta’ Malta u Għawdex. Xi wħud kienu jippreferu li jagħmlu użu mill-filmini għax permezz tal-istampi, xi drabi pitturi klassiċi, setgħu jiddeskrivu fid-dettall il-ġrajja tal-Passjoni. Kien isir l-istess fil-ġranet ta’ wara l-Għid il-Kbir billi jintwera l-filmin tal-Qawmien mill-mewt ta’ Ġesù.

Maż-żmien il-filmini saru sinonimi mal-mod kif isir it-tagħlim fis-Soċjetà. Is-Soċji u l-Kandidati bdew isiru dejjem iktar kreattivi fil-mod kif iħaddmu l-filmini, xi drabi billi jużaw żewġ projectors b’effetti ta’ fade in u fade out. B’xorti tajba għadd ta’ filmini ġew mogħtija l-format ta’ powerpoint u hemm minnhom b’recording sinkronizzat mal-istampi.

Il-filmin tradizzjonali qeda l-funzjoni tiegħu għal għexieren ta’ snin bħala għajnuna imprezzabbli biex is-Soċjetà tal-MUSEUM setgħet tkompli l-missjoni tagħha ta’ tagħlim u formazzjoni fil-fidi. Illum il-filmin qed jintuża b’aktar faċilità, grazzi għat-teknologija diġitali.

Nistgħu ngħidu li f’kull żmien kien hemm xi għajnuniet ta’ għamla jew oħra biex titħabbar il-kelma ta’ Alla. Jalla dan it-tagħrif ikun ta’ inkuraġġiment għall-katekisti tal-lum biex iħarsu ’l quddiem bit-tama li l-katekeżi li joffru tferraħ lill-parteċipanti f’din il-missjoni hekk nobbli.

Joe Galea

THE FILMSTRIP, AN INVALUABLE AID IN CATECHESIS

Old folk who are familiar with the Society of Christian Doctrine (M.U.S.E.U.M.) of the mid-twentieth century still cherish many happy memories. In that era, those who received their religious formation in the Society will certainly enjoy recalling the activities in the centres, the Sunday outings, as well as the many colourful filmstrips which meant so much to them.

The use of filmstrips in the Society of Christian Doctrine in Malta dates to more than 70 years ago. Some members, who were visiting Turin in Northern Italy, were immediately drawn by the filmstrips produced by the Salesians of Don Bosco. Taking the initiative, they started to import them and offer them to SDC Centres.

A great promoter was Francis Camilleri (1908-1984), who was then President of the ‘Culture Committee’ and later Primarius of the Society. Every Monday evening, he used to deliver a talk for adults at the chapel of Tad-Dawl (Our Lady of Light) in his native village Żebbuġ (Malta). Much to the delight of the audience, he invariably projected a filmstrip with his talk. Another member who comes to mind was Ignatius Azzopardi (1920-2004) of Rabat, also a member of the Culture Committee. He used to go from one SDC Centre to another, delivering catechism lessons to children and adolescents, generally using a filmstrip to illustrate his talk. Ignatius had a particularly melodious voice to which all the children listened attentively in perfect silence, and in the darkness all eyes were fixed on the screen.

The filmstrip, or ‘filmin’, consisted of a series of slides about a particular theme. A forerunner of the modern powerpoint, it made the lesson really come to life. As a result, it was looked forward to and enjoyed by all. It proved also an excellent means of catechizing, even to adults. A pictorial story naturally generated greater expectation and interest.

The frames could be projected one by one in much the same way as a ‘power point’. The filmstrip would first be mounted onto the upper reel of the hand-operated projector, and then connected to the lower reel. The catechist was able to pass from one picture to the next by turning the second reel. In loading the filmstrip, it was important to mount the frames of the pictures upside down, so that they would be projected the right way up onto the screen. The frame size of the earlier versions was 24mm, but eventually it was increased to 35mm.

What began as an individual initiative in no time became an accepted good practice within the Society, and more opportunities were discerned in order to publicise further the use of this new catechetical medium. Every Wednesday, just as members started gathering for the weekly Members’ Meeting at the Mother House in Blata l-Bajda, the members from the various Centres were encouraged to hire filmstrips for a week or two against a minimal fee of sixpence per ‘film’. The small room next to the Culture Committee was used for this purpose. On return of the filmstrip, they could hire another or buy one or more for their Centre. Soon, most Centres, and even individual members, were building their own filmstrip library. When Preca Bookshop was set up very close to the Conference Hall of the Central House, it soon became a popular venue for SDC members looking for filmstrips, books and religious articles.

The filmstrips covered a wide range of subjects, from Bible stories to catechism, as well as Church teaching and liturgy (particularly sacramental liturgy), lives of the saints, and even Aesop’s fables. Children were enthusiastic about the serial stories such as that of ‘Bambo’, a missionary adventure in 20 episodes which was in itself an illustrated ‘catechism’. ‘Selim Bey’, 10 serialized filmstrips and ‘The Black Crusader’, in 4 filmstrips were also popular stories that provided a good context for imparting religious knowledge and faith formation. In summer, the ‘lecture’ (a common term for a talk accompanied by a filmstrip) could be held either in the courtyard or on the roof of the Centre for all the children to enjoy in the evening cool breeze. The class catechist would sound a small bell as signal to the person taking care of the projector to proceed to the next slide. In time, filmstrips of a purely catechetical nature became a regular feature in all classes.

The liturgical seasons were ideal for the use of filmstrips to illustrate the prevailing sacred story. The Lenten season in particular offered an opportunity for the narration of the Lord’s Passion, week by week. The kids and adolescents attending our Centres eagerly awaited the recounting of the Passion story, even more so since this was generally done using a three-part filmstrip series. During the Sundays of Lent, the same narrative was also meditatively explained in detail by the SDC Members in evening talks for adults in the various towns and villages. Even here, some members preferred to make use of filmstrips in the hope of arousing interest and ensuring a more lasting effect on the hearts and minds of their listeners.

Over the years filmstrips became synonymous with the Society of Christian Doctrine. Members became ever more creative in their presentations, sometimes making use of two filmstrip/slide projectors to create a fade-in fade-out effect. Fortunately, a number of these filmstrips were eventually converted into power-point format which in some cases included also recorded synrochronised narration.

The traditional filmstrip has served its purpose for decades as an invaluable aid in the Society’s methods in carrying out its mission in faith formation through catechesis. To a certain extent it is still utilised, albeit with a different medium as provided by modern digital technology. In this way it is easier to access. Looking back on the memories that the filmstrip narrative brings to mind can be an encouragment to to-day’s catehists to look ahead with hope for the future use of good catechetical material which is available from time to time.

Joe Galea

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