With the closing of theaters due to COVID-19, moviegoers have been missing out on the cinematic experience. One of Columbia’s local theaters, Ragtag Cinema, was closed for a short period of time, so the Ragtag Film Society released a new resource: Ragtag at Home.
Shortly after the True/False Film Fest was held in March, the pandemic hit the state of Missouri.
“It was very strange to go from this really utopian four days of celebrating nonfiction cinema and then within weeks, we were in stay-at-home orders,” says Kelly Famuliner, director of community partnerships and education at Ragtag.
Ragtag at Home was rolled out a few weeks later. A curated list of films with guides attached can be watched for free through Kanopy, which any Daniel Boone Regional Library cardholder can access. The guides are located on a Google Drive with discussion questions, overviews, children’s crafts and more. As of September, there were 10 movie guides posted. Two additional guides will be added within the next two weeks, Famuliner says.
The Ragtag Film Society has had a long partnership with Columbia Public Schools. Before the pandemic, the Columbia Public Schools Foundation sponsored a Media Literacy Initiative that allowed teachers to bring their class to Ragtag for a film followed by questions and activities.
“The idea of Ragtag at Home was kind of rooted in having had success with, and deeply impactful experiences with, Columbia Public Schools students, and the cinema developing some curriculum around that or at least questions that could help guide discussions in classes or in the cinema,” Famuliner says.
The Media Literacy Initiative hopes to do something different. “Everyone, many people, even young kiddos, we’re all kind of informal documentarians now, so learning how to be responsible digital citizens, thinking about what we’re putting out there, what we’re consuming is incredibly important,” Famuliner says.
Many K-12 students have grown up around an increasing amount of media. Roy Fox, emeritus at the University of Missouri's College of Education, says the digital age has made access to media easier as well as quicker. Fox describes media literacy as “fundamental to democracy” and “fundamental to critical thinking.”
Ragtag at Home was created to recognize the importance of media literacy, particularly during the pandemic when families were going to be spending a lot of time together. In working to create the resource, Famuliner watched some of the movies with her 6-year-old daughter.
“Being able to see her reaction was really lovely, and asking her what questions do you have, incorporating a little bit of that into the film guide was fun. All of them are intentionally curated, so they’re all wonderful, truly,” Famuliner says.
Famuliner’s personal favorite among the films is I Am Not Your Negro. The film was chosen as the 2017 True/False education screening, where all CPS sophomores watched the film at Jesse Auditorium.
Ragtag at Home currently features the following titles: Faces Places, The Secret of Kells, Nocturna, Eleanor’s Secret, Mia and the Migoo, Patema Inverted, The Fits, I Am Not Your Negro, Whose Streets? and Let the Fire Burn.