Since the birth of further education before 1936, art education has been made available to the most underprivileged classes. From 1946 on, film clubs would start a remarkable work, screening films and reflecting upon them. After music and fine arts, art education developed in schools and was reinforced by the first agreements between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education in 1983, then permanently by the Law dated January 6th 1986, after which would start a chequered development dictated by left-wing or right-wing ministers.
For images, the movement took off with the creation of the associations UFFEJ (French Union for Children and Youth Films – 1990, from the action "Un été au ciné" (1991)) and "Les Enfants de cinéma" (1994). Beyond professional educations and workshops organized by teachers or volunteered artists, image literacy started first with film literacy and declined at school though the actions "collège au cinéma"(1988-89), "école au cinéma" (1994) and "lycéens au cinéma" (on a trial basis in 1993-94, and consolidated by a national charter in 1998).
On top of these different operations, compulsory Film and audio-visual lessons for literary studies were given in in high school (ex-A3). This is one of the seven art classes offered to students in high school or technical schools, as a specialty option in literary courses of study (five hours weekly in 120 schools) and a facultative option in other courses (three hours weekly in 200 schools (10000 students for all options, and more than 8000 for the specialty option.)
The actions "école", "collège" and "lycéens au cinéma" offer film projections (at least three times a year) to children and teenagers. Films are selected by professional commissions and come along with educational material for the students and an educational kit for the teacher. These actions are implemented in partnership with the ministries of Culture, Education and Agriculture, voluntary teachers and professional associations (“les Enfants de cinema”, Regional Centres for Art and Cultural Education, Regional associations, etc.), local authorities and cinemas. The main objectives are explained in the official brochure published by the CNC  : "To shape the students’ tastes and to arouse their curiosity, via the projection of films in cinemas, in their original format ; To offer, as part of a partnership between ministries and authorities, educational extensions and trainings ; To improve everywhere in the country the access to film culture to the greatest number of students ; To take part in the development of a cultural practise of quality, by nurturing regular connections between youth and cinemas ; To offer an additional activity to teachers, enabling them to develop or to deepen the reference objectives of the programmes". All these actions concern, each year, more than one million pupils in primary, secondary or high school.
Born in 1991 at the instigation of the CNC, the action “un été au ciné" is an extracurricular activity, aimed at young people and adults from suburbs in difficulties, by offering reduced fares to young people, free open-air film projections, indoor screenings with the attendance of directors and workshops on art practises. From the very beginning, this action was a partnership between the Ministry of Urban Development (as part of the operations Ville-Vie-Vacances-VVV), the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and local authorities. From 1999 on, these actions were gathered under the term "cinéville". In 2007, "un été au ciné-cinéville" became "Passeurs d’images". With similar objectives, it is aimed at all publics with access difficulties to film and audio-visual practises. Spread over 26 regions (21 metropolitan regions and 5 French overseas administrative departments and territories) in 464 towns in 2007, this action is specially based on multi-partnership between all players interceding with these publics : institutions, professionals or associations ; film, audio-visual, cultural, social, youth, justice, hospital, etc. It concerns each year almost 300000 people with diverse projects based on local realities. .
The development of these different actions has altered the regional landscape of film and audio-visual institutions. From the year 2000 on, solid structures were implemented in regions, in order to coordinate these actions, but also to offer all mediators real resource centres, providing them with material and skills. With the support of state, regional and local authorities (decentralized state services, but also cooperation between municipalities, regional Councils), certain structures became information centres, but also places for trainings, production and/or broadcasting. They can host shooting offices (offering any kind of help, finding accommodation for the staff, proposing a list of sites where to shoot, etc.), and manage production aid funds. They are often commissioned to broadcast films supported by the region. They represent film and audio-visual professionals (cinema owners as well as producers), young creators who wish to bring new artistic visions, teachers or public intermediaries working with images, associative or social intermediaries trying to connect “further education with sociability, leisure and imagination”, elected officials who find in there specific skills required for their financial or political choices, students doing some research… This (non exhaustive) list shows that these structures have become necessary to the development of trainings, film broadcast and of an education closer to all publics.
In spite of numerous difficulties, French cinemas remain the main asset for the access to films. Beyond the question of the “municipalisation” of some cinemas (30% of them) and the burst of multiplexes, diversity must be considered. Tendencies to centralize (in both exploitation and distribution) create an omnipotent exposition of big productions and a very limited one for small-budget films or other kind of offers. Boosted by such assessment, directors and other professionals searched for other projection locals to meet their publics. They have less and less recourse to French television, trapped as it is by its ambivalent emotions towards the government and by the boundless dictatorship of ratings. Other projection locals developed in parallel to cinemas. Any cultural institution now has its own projection room, from museums to auditoriums through concert halls and “artistic new territories” . Projection is not their primary function, but they have good equipment and are especially interested in screening experimental works, documentaries, and short films of all kinds, which are unfortunately usually shown in cinemas for only a week or broadcast on television late at night !
All these trends came with the arrival of new technologies that changed the very system of our society. First, television, whose influence spread in France from 1985 on. Videography, the first cameras that anyone can use, and the VHS format revolutionized amateur practises. The implementation of surveillance cameras and control terminals altered the importance of image markets in companies ; made it more professional and advanced, through automatic functioning and storage.
Computers miniaturized, simplified and made production, broadcasting and storage available to all. The arrival of Internet connected everything together. With high speed, satellites, digital technology and telephony, we have now reached a new confusing step : we don’t know who does what anymore, who says what, who shows what, who capture what, etc.
Broadcast channels diversified and proliferated, but digital technology and films really brought us towards new horizons. With computers, digital technologies made their way into films in the 60s. Andy Warhol and others “created” art videos. In 1968, Stanley Kubrick blew our minds with 2001, A Space Odyssey. During the following years, many directors used computer-generated images : Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), Steven Lisberger (Tron, in 1982). Then Jean Eustache, Jean-Luc Godard, Francis Ford Coppola, etc. In 1991, the Morphing technique enabled James Cameron to offer us his amazing Terminator 2. In 1992 the first digital projection took place, with Bugsy (Barry Levinson). The trend had begun and the first editing softwares were launched on the market in 1994, with Adobe Premiere. The productions of Jurassic Park (with a real work on the quality of images) and Toy Story (using only computer-generated images) were two key moments that showed the predominance of digital technology in commercial films. Sony and JVC marketed DV (Digital video) formats. Georges Lucas released Stars Wars : Attack of the Clones in 2002 ; the first film shot in HD (digital film = digital High Definition), considered in Hollywood as a standard alternative to 35 mm.  And then came 3D ...
This dazzling evolution created a new deal. Directors took over this new tool, making it possible for them to shoot on their own for hours. The landscape and the techniques of documentaries were to be changed forever. The best French example was the success of Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I (DV in 2001). The production of all genres burst exponentially. From Lars von Trier to Kiarostami, Sokurov, Jia Zhang-Ke, Alain Corneau, through Brian De Palma, directors showed that they could not work without digital cameras anymore, or even, like Francis Ford Coppola, that from now on they would only shoot in HD.
Cinemas and distributors would soon have to change their methods and their broadcast channels. The dematerialization of images had begun.
Linked since their beginnings to film trends, fine artists multiplied their offers and used projections for new events. Amateurs played around with this technique, which they could use at home, as they wanted, producing and reproducing images, without losing any of their quality. Launched on the pro market in 1999, the editing software Final Cut pro is now available to everyone.
Connections (and the standardization of formats and norms) between computers, cameras and mobile phones offer the possibility to circulate, under good technical conditions, images though all possible channels (controlled or not).
Internet’s unprecedented development was a real earthquake , for societies, communication, globalization, and consequently for images that no government (even in China) is able to control.
DV and HD technologies keep improving in terms of definition (depth of field, colours, pixels, special effects, etc.). Any creation, modification and transformation of image are now possible, without anyone noticing it.
Born more than 100 years ago, animated images have reached a moment in their history where they can no longer be simply considered as “developing”, but as a major societal issue, since they now influence so much one’s way of thinking and one’s references.
Anyone committed to the process of image literacy must take into account these amazing technological developments, and learn how to supervise these practises. These new forms of image creations (web documentaries, machinima, etc.) forecast the dawning of a rather complex new era for the second half of the 21st century !!