The Yellow Smiling Face (2008) is a short film directed by Romanian director, Constantin Popescu. It has won acclaim in several European film festivals. The 15 minute movie, its title a reference to the visual language of emojis, playfully depicts an older couple trying to navigate their new computer.

We are interested in the potential research and pedagogical value of this movie as a way to engage older people in discussions about their past and present experiences learning with technology. We would like to see whether and how this film might allow us to engage in a reflection on our past findings on older adults and ICT uses and how it might allow us to engage in a cross national pedagogical exchange, using the film as a common point of reference.

The objectives of this pilot project are:

  1. To translate the short movie “The Yellow Smiling Face” (produced in Romania- currently with English subtitles) into French and Spanish so that it can be used for our studies and as a pedagogical tool to enhance teaching activities across countries;
  2. To conduct, record, and edit an interview (in English or with English subtitles) with the director of the movie (Constantin Popescu) – about the making of this movie. This would also serve as a part of the development of the pedagogical materials;
  3. To conduct a pilot study in three or four countries (Canada, Spain, Romania, and Colombia) of audience responses to the film. We will conduct focus groups (1 in each of countries listed above) that invite older participants to watch the movie and then reflect on the core findings discussed above.


Inspired by the ground-breaking work of cultural studies researchers, Sut Jhally and Justin Lewis, on the responses of black audiences to the Cosby show, and in the tradition of ‘audience research’, we will use “The Yellow Smiley Face” as an anchor for a group discussion that explores the ways in which older adults in each France, Romania, Spain, and Colombia engage with the film.

Our interest in “The Yellow Smiling Face” is instigated by our desire to delve more deeply into the data already gathered by ACT researchers on older adults’ ICT in Canada, Romania, and Spain (Fernández-Ardèvol, 2011; Ivan,& Hebblethwaite, 2016; ; Ivan & Fernández-Ardèvol, 2013; 2017a; 2017b; Ivan & Fernández-Ardèvol; 2013; Rosales, A., & Fernández-Ardèvol; 2016; Sawchuk & Crow, 2012).

Research Goals:

The research report, together with the short movie and the video interviews, will be used as pedagogical resources. We intend to explore other possible avenues of dissemination during the ACT annual meeting in October 2018.

Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University

Loredana Ivan, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA)

Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol, Open University of Catalonia / Universitat Oberta de Catalunya/ Interdisciplinary Internet Institute (IN3),

Andrea Rosales, Open University of Catalonia / Universitat Oberta de Catalunya /Interdisciplinary Internet Institute (IN3)- post doctoral researcher

Noura Brek, Concordia University


Research Areas:

Agency in Ageing

Critical Mediations

ACT Partners
Concordia University

SNSPA, Bucharest

IN3-UOC, Barcelona

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