When movies bring people together

By Natalie Lange

Movies are more than just pictures on a screen. They bring characters to life, tell stories, and bring people from all walks of life together. When Josué Almansa talks about movies, his face lights up. He passionately sees them as a great tool of learning, since every film brings across a different message.    

“Movies can help us become better people and improve ourselves by creating dialogue,” says Josué Almansa. He notes that while not all movies out there are necessarily good, some do tell important stories or raise important questions.  

Inspired by movie nights organised by Utrecht based organization, L’Abri, Almansa decided to create “Lets movie it.” These monthly movie nights invite all Groningen citizens of any age and nationality to come together, watch movies and discuss their content afterwards.  The events started a year ago in February 2018 and show mainly movies in English or otherwise with English subtitles. 

“After the movie we sit together and share our first impression,” explains Almansa. For him this part of the event is special because everyone interprets each movie differently, and by discussing it new perspectives come to the surface.

The group discussions are not limited to any specific aspect of the movie, it is more about sharing opinions, thoughts and connecting the plot to personal experiences. The discussion is open to all opinions and in Almansa’s eyes, “it is okay to disagree.” Seeing people discuss a film brings him joy even weeks after the event.  

Movies that challenge you

Almansa discovered his passion for analysing movies when he was a teenager. “I had a good philosophy teacher who challenged us to critically analyse a film and identify potential messages,” says Almansa.

“One goal of this project is to learn something that is not included in our academic environment and to gain more life experience through the stories that are told in the movies,” he explains. In his eyes it’s important to create a safe space where people can discuss meaningful topics, such as different worldviews, the role of idols, the purpose of life or forgiveness.

“Good movies are able to connect people and challenge their worldviews,” says Almansa. He enjoys the moments during a movie when everyone shares the same emotions and empathises with characters, such as Prince Albert in The King’s Speech. The Italian movie La Vita È Bella is one of his all-time favourites.

The movies selected for the event are not restricted to a specific genre but should be inclusive and facilitate a meaningful discussion afterwards. “If a movie is extremely specific to one particular culture, I won’t show it because other people can’t connect to it,” says Almansa.

He likes to select movies that are not necessarily popular but stoke discussion such as The Railway Man, The Dark Horse or The Straight Story. “I personally think a good movie deals with important questions of life to which we can, in a sense, relate or which might challenge our worldviews,” says Almansa.

The number of attendees varies and depends on the movie selected. The average movie night has around thirteen attendees, but for the movie Dead Poet’s Society, which was shown in February, around thirty people showed up. Upcoming movie nights are announced via Facebook and an email distribution list.

By showing movies with intriguing characters, moral dilemmas, big ideas and hidden truths, Almansa is daring people to explore and reflect movies on a deeper level.

As Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society puts it: “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”

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