Into Film Festival 2015

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Festival of film: Selma, based on the famous civil rights march led by Dr Martin Luther King, will be among those screened at this year's Into Film Festival (Image: Pathé)

The annual Into Film Festival takes place from November 4 to 20, with a host of screenings, workshops and resources available for secondary students. Sam Wilson previews the event

“As the French teacher I took my year 9s to Les Enfants de Timpelbach and they loved it. So did the other schools in the cinema, you could tell by the audible gasps at crucial moments and the ‘aahs’ at tender points of the film: it was a resounding success. A lot was gained by it both linguistically and culturally.”

Judith Steinberg, a senior French teacher and attendee at the Into Film Festival 2014.

“Film is an amazing learning tool – it enables people to understand more about events, history, society and much more. And it also brings people together and encourages discussion. There are so many great conversations you can have about different topics and issues after watching a film together. The Into Film Festival is really exciting because it is a great opportunity for young people to do this, and also learn more about the film industry itself. And all for free, which is great!”
Carey Mulligan, actor (Far From the Madding Crowd, Suffragette, An Education, The Great Gatsby).

A myriad of opportunities to use the magic of film for memorable learning, and enjoy a school trip that’s educational, fun and free, are on offer at the Into Film Festival this November – the world’s largest film festival for children and young people.

Back for a second year, the festival supports Into Film’s vision to put film at the heart of children and young people’s learning and personal development, harnessing the power of the moving image to engage young minds in topics ranging from literacy, science and online safety to racism, anti-bullying, copyright and critical-thinking.

Students pictured at last year's festival (Photo: Into Film)

The festival kicks off with an exclusive pupil premiere of Fox Searchlight’s new documentary He Named Me Malala, screened at 80 locations across the UK.

The film – about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s life, story and personal journey as an education activist – is an extraordinary account of one young person’s courage, determination, and campaign for equality that has the power to inspire all young people.

During the festival, a packed programme of more than 2,700 events will seek to creatively involve 450,000 five to 19-year-olds from all backgrounds and corners of the UK in watching and making films, many for the first time.

Highlights will include previews of new films including Danny Boyle’s new biographical drama Steve Jobs, screenings, workshops, special events and Q&A sessions with industry experts, accompanied by teaching resources to support learning at the festival and in the classroom.

All events are free and can be booked by teachers and youth leaders on the festival’s website (see further information).

Organised by education charity Into Film, which is supported by the BFI with Lottery funding, this annual celebration of film and education is hosted in association with National Schools Partnership and funded by cross-industry group Cinema First.

This year, the festival also partners with Get Creative, a major new project from the BBC and What Next?, which celebrates and encourages the nation’s arts, culture and creativity.

Throughout the festival, more than 150 quality films will be screened in more than 520 venues across the UK, encompassing classic and popular titles from all round the world and every genre and style of film-making to broaden young people’s horizons and cinematic tastes.

Far From Madding Crowd (Fox Searchlight Pictures/BBC Films)

Film adaptations of books and plays will once again be a key feature with, among others, screenings of Jane Eyre, Far from the Madding Crowd, Life of Pi, Atonement, Paper Towns and Little Women.
French and German films from the French Cultural Institute and Goethe Institute will be on offer as will a Spanish language workshop hosted by the Cervantes Institute.

Teaching resources to accompany each strand of the festival, designed to support the curricula of all four nations and key calendar events such as Anti-Bullying Week and Black History Month, taking place during the festival, will be available to download from the Into Film Festival website.

These will offer comprehensive teacher’s notes, flexible discussion starters, activity outlines and pupil worksheets to inspire and challenge pupils before a festival visit and after the screening. Resources supporting individual films will be offered for the majority of titles as will Into Film Festival guides for different age groups and a Supporting SEN Students resource.

Headline themes this year will be Identity, Wellbeing and Achievement, each with a primary and secondary strand.

Under Identity, films for secondary include Selma, which chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when Dr Martin Luther King led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. It also includes Ballet Boys, Girlhood and new British drama Suffragette. These films will explore perceptions of individual identity in terms of gender, sexuality and race.

Within the Wellbeing theme, titles including the powerful new documentary Amy, American teen movie The Duff, black comedy Force Majeure and Dutch drama Labyrinthus will be used to promote discussion about issues such as mental health, addiction, online safety, moral dilemmas and bullying. Love – also this year’s BFI Blockbuster theme – is a key topic with a series of films that represent differing aspects of love, positive and negative, and associated activities to help students reflect on the different ways humans express their emotions and the features of a healthy relationship.

As part of this, an immersive cinema event for Gregory’s Girl, where viewers are made to feel they could be characters in the film, will enable young people to experience the film through investigating the science of attraction, focusing on hormones and their effect on behaviour.

Finally, Achievement – offering films like Billy Elliot, Testament of Youth, Bullet Boy, Everest and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – looks at inspirational stories and is also a celebration of British film, and key institutions and anniversaries in the British film industry.

Talks to contextualise screenings or promote discussion around a range of curriculum-linked or topical issues such as anti-bullying, racism, genetics and resettlement will be hosted by – among others – the National Association for the Teaching of English, Show Racism the Red Card, the Refugee Council, and anti-bullying organisation Ditch The Label.

There will also be opportunities for young people to find out about different aspects of the film industry and careers within it, including a series of careers talks by BAFTA, workshops on film journalism by professional critics from the Guardian and the Critics’ Circle, and a post-production workshop demonstrating special effects and showcasing new film technologies.

Costume experts CosProp will demonstrate the role of the costume designer alongside screenings of The King’s Speech and Jane Eyre, and Creative England will speak about the role of the location manager.
Students will enjoy a rare chance to interact with actors, directors, cinematographers and editors – among them Oscar and BAFTA-winning director James Marsh, who will give a Q&A alongside his latest film, The Theory Of Everything.

Jane Eyre (Focus Features)

Autism-friendly screenings – welcomed last year by SEN teachers and their pupils – will be offered to foster inclusivity and, for sensory-impaired attendees, subtitling and audio-description.

Opportunities for those living in remote areas to access the festival will include a mobile cinema – Screen Machine – travelling across the Scottish Highlands and a pop-up cinema which will travel to rural parts of Northern Ireland.

Across the UK, in addition to participating cinemas, venues involved with this year’s festival include the V&A Museum, the British Library and the ICA in London, Pinewood Studios, the UK’s oldest working cinema the Electric in Birmingham, a barn in Totnes and a barge on a canal. There will also be events at Leeds and Falkirk town halls, many arts centres, community-run cinemas, and cinemas on university campuses in Kent and Hertfordshire.

In a survey of teachers who attended last year’s festival, 94 per cent said they saw the broader educational benefits for their students and 72 per cent said they were more likely to use film or cinema to support delivery of the curriculum.

This year, we hope that the Into Film Festival offers even greater scope for using film to captivate young minds, support learning, broaden horizons – or at the very least share a great film with your students that they may not otherwise get a chance to see. We hope you enjoy it!

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

Further information

The Into Film Festival 2015 is free and will take place from November 4 to 20. For information and to book tickets, visit


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