By Evelyn Heis, Film & Television Columnist
Check in with Ev each month for a new article discussing all things film & television from her own personal perspective. This month she focuses on how film helped her to learn english upon moving to the UK.
I was eight when I first came to the UK. I had been taking English lessons two years prior in a Spanish private school, preparing for what my mum described as my ‘first big move!’ (She had clearly overlooked the fact that we had migrated from Argentina six years earlier.) I remember being excited for how my new life would be - regardless of the fact that I would be leaving my dad and other family - and I anxiously awaited all the new friends and the endless world of possibilities the UK had to offer. So, my mum, step-dad, younger brother, and I moved to Wales in the Summer before I turned nine.
During those years, my mum would often nag me about watching television with subtitles, arguing that they would help me to better understand things, and - she’ll be happy to hear this – they did. In adjusting to my new Welsh life, I watched everything with subtitles, hoping that I would soon be able to speak like my classmates and blend in with everyone else. I visited the library frequently, immersing myself in storybooks I’d never had access to, and thus, my love for literature flourished. The books I’d take out I would devour in seconds, and I’d spend countless hours reading to my brother with my Peppa Pig night light. At that age, if I wasn’t playing outside with friends, I was curled up in bed watching a movie - with subtitles - or writing silly stories for my brother. I haven’t changed much since.
One particular day in October, my teacher, Mr. Allers, invited me to an after-school Film Club he had just initiated. Here, we would watch films weekly and then review them. Me being me, I couldn’t stop there, writing additional reviews for the films that I grew up watching and loved dearly - from Lilo and Stitch (2002) to The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
However, it was my review of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005) that changed everything. I poured my heart into it, as it was one of my favourite movies, and included a grave pun I’m still proud of. As it so happens, Film Club loved my review and awarded it ‘Review of the Month’, along with a T-shirt I still wear today. It was the first time that my articulacy as a non-native English speaker had been recognised, and I was overjoyed in learning that writing about something I was passionate about could be rewarded. So, I didn’t stop writing.
Almost eleven years later, it is fascinating to see my life come full circle. I am an English Literature student, still devouring books, and writing for the Film and TV section of Epigram. As I sit here, writing my first-ever column, reminiscing on the events and people that shaped my interests in literature, film and encouraged me to pursue writing, it is moving to think of the tremendous impact they had on my future. This is an opportunity that nine-year- old Evelyn could have never imagined and I am thrilled with where my ‘first big move’ has taken me.
Featured Image: Evelyn Heis/Epigram
Come back next month to read more from Evelyn