Inaugural PT Focus Group Meeting

The inaugural focus group meeting in Portugal took place on the 20th of February in the AidLearn facilities at 15:00. All the group members were acquainted with each other over a cup of coffee or tea. Maria Helena Antunes took the opportunity to explain, in more detail, the profile of the project CINAGE and its objectives. All the participants were genuinely interested.

Fátima Chinita, then, proceeded to explain the methodology adopted for the choice of the twelve films plus one that were to be watched as part of the assignment of the focus group. One copy of the focus group grid was provided as one of the documents prepared for the meeting. The competencies that define active ageing were explained in detail so as to make sure the group knew exactly what was at stake. Then, the group went over the grid and posed questions concerning some of the items in it. For instance, there was some uncertainty as how to approach the box A about "overall storyline". Some of the people were in doubt as to what an "honest representation" was and some of them confused it with "realistic situation". In the end, after some debating, it was more or less consensual that an "honest representation" should have to do with the point of view adopted by the filmmakers in approaching their respective subjects. A list of important links connected to the project CINAGE (Website, Facebook page, etc.) was delivered and the group was also informed that they would be receiving a pack of items by e-mail, including the grids to write on.

Fátima Chinita also explained the proceedings to follow and the place where the focus group could access the films on line. Almost all of them, including the oldest member of the group (aged 88) had, prior to the meeting, clearly stated that watching the films in such a way would not be a problem. There was one exception, though, and for that group member, the other senior citizen (aged 74) a pack of copies had been prepared in advance and were delivered to her at this point. Actually, this senior citizen was so enthusiastic about the project that she showed up with an elderly friend who stayed on during the meeting.

The film Elsa y Fred (2005, Marcos Carnevale, Spain) was projected and followed by an extremely participated discussion oriented towards the six competencies. It was interesting to notice that, although the film was well received by all the people present, not all of them had the same opinion about it. Some of the focus group members stressed some issues while others decided to stress other points. For one participant, for example, the diegetic dog was very important as a good portrayal of a certain need for companionship that especially elderly people have. The characters' motivations and their differences were also delved upon in detail. The unrealistic nature of the film was, ultimately, accepted as intentional since the film is a sort of cinematic fairy tale based on Federico Fellini's anti-illusionist films. The female main character, considered to be exaggerated and a little histrionic was, in the end, thought to be the perfect counterpoint to the male protagonist. The issues of health and making the most of life were also contemplated on the discussion.

Independently of the differences of opinion, everybody was pleased with the conversation and declared they were eager to see the other films. The male senior citizen even said he wanted to watch the same film again that night with his wife.

The date set for the delivery of the film grids was the 20th of March, in order to give everybody a full month to watch the films and write the film grids in English. Some photographs of the proceedings were taken and will be posted in Wiggio shortly.

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