Into Film Festival 2017

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Into Film? Actor Kenneth Brannagh with students at an Into Film Festival screening (Image: Into Film)

The annual Into Film Festival takes place in November with 3,000 free screenings and events. It is the world’s largest film education festival. Sam Wilson looks at what’s on

“There is such a buzz around school with all the cinema trips going on at the moment. We’ve been able to offer trips for every key stage with so many different learning objectives supported by them. It’s been brilliant!” Joseph Glover, William Ellis School

A trip to the cinema is a sure-fire way to excite your students. When it’s free and designed to support learning, develop literacy and critical skills, and promote discussion about a broad range of issues, it is an opportunity not to miss – which is why, for many educators, the Into Film Festival has become a highlight of the school calendar.

The Into Film Festival is the world’s largest free film festival for young people. This year it takes place from November 8 to 24, with a packed and varied programme of 3,000 free screenings and events for five to 19-year-olds, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum.

Building on the success of last year, which saw more than 470,000 people attend, this year’s festival seeks to actively involve 500,000 young people and educators from all backgrounds and corners of the UK in watching and making films, some for the first time.

With support from all the major UK cinema chains and with venues ranging from the British Library, the V&A, the BFI Southbank and Pinewood Studios to a secret bunker in Scotland, a farm in Wales, and an Ark in Northern Ireland, the festival provides access to the big screen at its best, including IMAX screens and 3D and 4D experiences.

The annual celebration of film and education is hosted by Into Film as part of our vision to put film at the heart of young people’s learning and personal development, and supported by the BFI, Cinema First, a wide collaboration with UK cinema industry partners and delivery partner the National Schools Partnership.

The programme

This year’s programme is curated with the following six themes in mind to spark discussion about a broad range of issues:

  • Activate: Effecting Change
  • Let’s Play
  • Generation Z
  • No Borders No Boundaries
  • History in Action
  • Thriller (supporting BFI Thriller autumn season)

Engaging: Films on offer at this year’s festival include Dunkirk (Warner Bros) above and Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) below

The selected film titles will address representation of diversity, and explore the many ways we can and do effect change, the value and innocent joy of creative play, and topical issues such as bullying, immigration, war and the environment.

“Generation Z”, focusing on wellbeing, will open up discussion around young people and mental health, and a dedicated “History in Action” strand will use recent releases, classics and archive film to explore key moments in history. In a festival first, one strand, “Thriller”, has been curated by young people from Into Film’s Youth Advisory Council, and the BFI’s Young Film Audience Network.

The array of stories on offer can be used to support learning across a range of subject areas including PSHE, citizenship, English, geography, history, modern foreign languages, design and technology, and politics.

Accessibility and inclusivity are key aims of the festival, with more than half of the programme offered as audio-described, subtitled or autism-friendly.
Film titles will include blockbuster premieres alongside classics and hidden gems from the archive, spanning modern foreign language to animation, documentaries, and films adapted from books and plays.

We’re offering UK-wide previews of festival-favourite The Florida Project and the new Emma Stone/Steve Carell film Battle of the Sexes. The big winners from this year’s awards season feature strongly too with films like La La Land (12A), Moonlight (15), Loving (12), Fences (12), and A United Kingdom (12A).

Award-winning documentary releases from the last year such as I Am Not Your Negro (12A) and The Eagle Huntress (U) are spread across the programme, as are the best of this year’s blockbusters like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (12A), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A), Wonder Woman (12A) and major new releases including Blade Runner 2049, Get Out (15), Dunkirk (12A) and Baby Driver (15).

We’re offering a range of classics such as To Sir, With Love (PG), Gandhi (PG), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (PG), Ratcatcher (15), and Tron (PG), and ecologically focused documentaries like An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (PG), and A Beautiful Planet 3D (U). Book-inspired film adaptations will, as always, be a feature. This year the possibilities for secondary include, among others, Pride and Prejudice (U), Howards End (PG), A Monster Calls (12A), Sherlock Holmes (12A), Murder on the Orient Express, Hidden Figures (PG), and Denial (12A).


Mapped against curricula from across the four nations and regions, the titles are supported by the festival’s various educational resources featuring discussion questions, review starters and extension activities for use on the day and back in the classroom, where screenings can continue to serve as a stimulus for a variety of tasks. In response to teacher feedback many of the resources will this year, for the first time, be in PowerPoint format so teachers can adapt them to suit the needs of their students.

A review-writing competition provides added opportunity for using the Into Film Festival to support literacy and critical thinking. Festival guides, including one for educators of students with SEND, will be available to help you get the most from your visit.

Events, talks and workshops

Q&As with big name film-makers and industry experts ranging from cinematographers, production designers, camera-operators, sound engineers, costume designers and prop-makers to writers, directors, producers and actors, provide a rare chance for students to learn about the film industry and careers within it first-hand. Screenings hosted by leading charities will offer further opportunities for discussion and debate.

Highlights of the events programme this year include:

  • The UK Space Agency speaking alongside IMAX screenings of A Beautiful Planet 3D.
  • The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) hosting discussions about the role of the examiner and classification issues.
  • Screenings and Q&As to support Anti-Bullying Week introduced by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Kidscape and Ditch the Label.
  • Oxfam hosting discussions in Oxford, Cardiff, London and Manchester alongside screenings of Dhanak, which looks at war from a child’s perspective.
  • Special effects expert Artem speaking about their role in a film’s production alongside screenings of Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2 (12A) and Hot Fuzz (15).
  • Chair of the Critics’ Circle Anna Smith, Empire magazine’s Helen O’Hara and film critic Alan Jones offering tips on becoming a film critic.
  • Producer Melissa Simmonds hosting Q&As alongside new Shakespeare adaptation A Caribbean Dream with members of the cast and crew.
  • An industry panel at the BFI Southbank, in partnership with Triforce Creative Network, giving advice about a career in film – including trainee schemes, entry points and the different roles that can be considered.
  • Movietime’s Adrian Smith speaking alongside Dunkirk about the evolution of film-making and projection technologies, and Christopher Nolan’s journey from shooting on Super 8 to championing IMAX/70mm as well as the anamorphic lens and widescreen, with visual examples.
  • Yvonne Connikie, founder member of the New Black Collective introducing the ICO’s Britain on Film archive package which shares little-seen depictions of Black British life from 1901 to 1985.
  • OurScreen speaking to students about how they can programme, market and run their own cinema events.
  • Film data expert Stephen Follows hosting an interactive slot about the state of the film industry today and how students can break in.
  • Geneticists from Wales Gene Park leading a discussion alongside Gattaca (15) about advances in genetic science and related moral issues
  • Q&As in Scotland with writer/director Hope Dickson Leach alongside her new film The Levelling (15).
  • Foley artist Pete Burgis speaking to students at Pinewood and Shepperton studios about bringing sound effects to studio film productions.
  • CosProp talking about the work of the costume designer at the V&A Museum.

The impact

In a survey of teachers who attended last year, 94 per cent said the festival activities were useful in helping to deliver the curriculum, 94 per cent felt the festival activities were valuable in terms of the broader education of young people, and 82 per cent said that the festival has made them more likely to use cinema visits to support the delivery of the curriculum.
The Into Film Festival is a school trip to remember, an opportunity for memorable learning and a springboard for further engagement with film. Screenings fill up fast so check out what’s on in your area and book your free tickets.

  • Sam Wilson is the artistic director of the Into Film Festival.

Further information

The Into Film Festival 2017 will take place from November 8 to 24. All screenings and events are free and bookings are now open. For details, visit


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