Into Film Festival 2016

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Film education: Films on show at this year’s Into Film Festival include Brooklyn (Image: Lionsgate 2015)

The Into Film Festival takes place from November 9 to 25 with more than 3,000 free screenings for schools as well as a host of workshops and other activities. Key themes this year include diversity, wellbeing and anti-bullying. Festival artistic director Sam Wilson explains more

“What an opportunity for them to see the film in such a beautiful historic cinema and to have the Q&A with the actor and screenwriter afterwards. The Q&A breathed life into our study of the film industry and was of direct and invaluable benefit. The students really enjoyed the whole experience. It has made them more receptive to films that may not initially appeal to them. Visiting the cinema is quite expensive for them – this was a fantastic opportunity to see a film they wouldn’t normally see in an amazing venue that they wouldn’t normally visit.”

Linda Cramer, head of media, St Mark’s Catholic School, Hounslow

For three weeks this autumn teachers and their pupils will once again have the chance to enjoy a free trip to the cinema as part of the Into Film Festival, which returns with its UK-wide programme from November 9 to 25.

Now in its third year and with a strong focus on using film to support learning, the celebration of film and education offers a raft of possibilities for engaging young minds through the immersive magic of cinema.

There are 3,000 free screenings and workshops, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum. The world’s biggest youth film festival, it seeks to creatively involve 450,000 five to 19-year-olds and educators, from all backgrounds and corners of the UK, in watching and making films, some for the first time.

The annual event, made possible by funding from Cinema First and support from the BFI through Lottery Funding, as well as a wide collaboration with UK cinema industry partners and delivery partners National Schools Partnership, aims to build on the success of last year’s festival, which saw more than 415,000 young people and educators attend.

This year’s programme will offer a range of stories curated with six themes in mind. The selected film titles will address the importance of diversity and encourage young people to empathise with others.

Films exploring changes in circumstance, environment, bullying and transition will offer the chance to debate current topics including immigration, loss and sexual or racial discrimination. There is also a focus on individuals, movements and achievements that have changed the course of history or challenged our way of life.

Film titles will include blockbusters, premieres and the latest superhero releases, alongside classic films and hidden gems from the archive, spanning modern foreign language cinema to animation.

Adaptations of books and plays will be in abundance and British titles and documentaries will also feature.
Mapped against curricula from across the four nations, and supported by the festival’s various educational resources, learnings from these titles can be applied to a wealth of subject areas.

Suffragette (Image: Focus Features 2015)

The strands

Of this year’s six festival strands, those most relevant for secondary are Culture Shock, Game Changers, See It Be It, Words Can Hurt and Black Star. Curriculum links are clearly highlighted for each strand to help when choosing events. They include history, citizenship, PSHE, geography, languages, film and media studies, economics, politics and sociology. Discussing and reviewing films is encouraged to support literacy.

Culture Shock

Incorporating titles like Oscar-winning Brooklyn (12) and Carol (15), popular adaptation The Divergent Series: Allegiant (12) and pacy German thriller Victoria (15), Culture Shock will open a window onto the lives of others, both modern and historical, and encourage young people to consider how changes of environment, significant life transitions, and being out of step with the social norm can affect people.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Image: Summit Entertainment)

Game Changers

With films such as Suffragette (12), The Divide (12), Spotlight (15) and The Big Short (15), Game Changers will prompt young people to discover or learn more about significant cultural figures, movements and historical events in order to gain an understanding of the ways in which they have shaped our world. Authors including Shakespeare, and sports stars Mohammed Ali and Jesse Owens are among those celebrated in this strand, alongside narratives that demonstrate social, political, or economic reform and breakdown.

See It, Be It

This strand focuses on narratives that feature aspirational and positive role-models and celebrates strength in all aspects of diversity – gender, LGBT, BAME and disability. Titles, ranging from French comedy La Famille Belier (12) and remake The Magnificent Seven (12) to tender debut Departure (15) and GBF (Gay Best Friend) (15), acknowledge the right for all young people to see themselves represented on screen, with the aim of inspiring them to believe they can be and do whatever they choose in life.

Words Can Hurt

The Words Can Hurt strand will encompass themes of wellbeing – including stories with anti-bullying messages – that underline the importance of treating everyone with respect and encourage empathy for others. Films featured here – among them Love and Mercy (12), Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (12), and Steve Jobs (15) – should spark discussion and the exploration of issues including body-image, grief, self-esteem and inequality through the use of language and its consequences.

Black Star

Supporting the BFI’s new Black Star blockbuster season, our Black Star strand will celebrate the range, versatility and power of Black actors. From Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12) and Africa United (12) to Hotel Rwanda (12), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (12), Selma (12) and 12 Years A Slave (15), the films will demonstrate a range and depth of storytelling that will resonate with a young audience and are engaging and relevant for educators using film in the classroom.

Hotel Rwanda (Image: United Artists 2004)

Resources and inclusivity

Teaching resources linking to each of the festival strands are available to download from the Into Film Festival website, providing teachers’ notes and activity outlines for use before and after screenings to facilitate further exploration of the films and the themes within them. Many films will have an accompanying guide with synopsis, discussion points, follow-up activities and other recommended titles.

A dedicated resource for students with SEND will also be provided, as will Into Film Festival guides for different age groups to help educators plan ahead and get the most out of their visit.

Autism-friendly screenings will be widely available and more than half of the screenings on offer will be accessible to attendees with a visual or hearing impairment through audio-description and subtitling.

Special events

Screenings hosted by education organisations and leading charities will provide further opportunities to discuss key curricula and whole-school issues.

Q&As and masterclasses with film-makers, including big names from across the industry, will offer an insight into different roles and careers in film-making, from screenwriting and stunts to costume design and VFX.

Film critics will speak to students about film journalism and how to get into it as a career, the British Board of Film Classification will host a series of discussions about film classification and Debate Mate will run a facilitated debating session around the film Gone Too Far! (12).

Events will be held across the UK showcasing the work of young film-makers from in and around the local area of the host venue.

Film education: Students enjoy a screening during last year's Into Film Festival (Image: Into Film)

With the aim of making the festival accessible to every young person, whatever their circumstances or geographical location, we have more than 540 confirmed venues including several that students may never otherwise have the chance to visit.
We are bringing young audiences into the historic Regent Street Cinema, a 119-year-old cinema which was the first place to show a film in the UK, and into key arts and cultural venues like the Barbican, BFI Southbank and British Library, the Goethe Institute and the Institut Francais, all in London.

Other notable venues for this year include the National Assembly for Wales, a barn in Dartington, a village hall in the Vale of Glamorgan, and an ark in Northern Ireland. MediCinema will take the festival into hospitals and Screen Machine will again be travelling to remote areas of Scotland like the Isle of Barra, the Isle of Benbecula and the Isle of Arran where young people have limited access to cinema.

Eddie the Eagle (Image: Lionsgate 2016)


In a survey of teachers who attended last year, 98 per cent felt the festival activities were valuable to the broader education of young people.

Whether or not you already use film in your teaching the Into Film Festival offers a memorable out-of-school learning experience that’s enjoyable and free. Events fill up fast so make sure you book early.

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

Further information

The Into Film Festival 2016 will take place from November 9 to 25. Bookings are now open and all events and screenings are free. Visit


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