The Into Film Festival 2018

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Film Fever: Students during an Into Film festival screening

This year’s Into Film Festival takes place from November 7 to 23 and schools can already book their free places. Sam Wilson introduces this year’s programme

“We have enjoyed the Into Film Festival for many years and would highly recommend it to other schools.” Grace Elliot, The Bemrose School, Derby

Watching a film on the big screen and discussing it afterwards is not only entertaining, it can also be inspiring, informative and thought-provoking.

This autumn, for the sixth year running, schools all over the UK can enjoy the magic of cinema for free, supported by learning resources, at the Into Film Festival 2018. Running from November 7 to 23, the festival is the world’s largest free film festival for young people and a firm favourite with educators.

With 3,000 free screenings and workshops, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum, a packed, three-week programme seeks to creatively involve 400,000 five to 19-year-olds and their educators from all backgrounds and corners of the UK in cinema-based activities – some attending for the first time.

This year’s event will build on the success of last year’s festival which welcomed more than 485,000 people. Mental wellbeing and diversity will again feature heavily, and a review-writing competition will be on offer to promote literacy and critical-thinking.

With multiple IMAX and Dolby Atmos screenings as well as the new 4DX experience involving smells, effects and moving seats, the Into Film Festival promises the latest in big-screen technology. In addition to the major cinema chains festival-goers will experience venues such as Shepperton and Pinewood Studios, the BFI Southbank, London’s Cinema Museum, Croyde Deckchair Cinema in Devon, a 14th century converted barn, the Tramshed in Cardiff, and a community cinema in North Tyneside.

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. It is made possible by funding from Cinema First, the BFI, a wide collaboration with UK cinema industry partners, and delivery partners We Are Futures.

Image: Mary Shelley (Curzon)

The programme

The festival supports education through a carefully curated programme encompassing diverse stories, topics and genres as well as access to speakers, special events, review-writing and careers activities. This year’s festival is programmed with six themes in mind to help educators make their selections:

  • Mental Wellbeing: Moving Minds aims to open up discussion around the complex area of mental health, what mental wellbeing means to us individually and how we can help others while also taking care of ourselves. Included in this strand are screenings to support Anti-Bullying Week, which takes place during the festival’s duration.
  • Year of the Woman: Empowered Voices marks the centenary year of women’s suffrage by offering titles that are “F-rated” – a policy that aims to specifically highlight female storytellers, whether as director or screenwriter.
  • Comedy Genius: Slapstick to Subversive, complementing the BFI’s blockbuster autumn season Comedy Genius, will give a platform to the stand-out comedians from film history. The strand is compiled with input from members of Into Film’s Youth Advisory Council and the BFI’s Film Audience Network (FAN) young programming groups who have provided their view on what constitutes comic genius.
  • Saving the World: Eco Warriors, Superheroes and Revolutionaries aims to encourage debate about the world we live in, the problems it faces, the activists who are trying to address them and the superheroes real or fantastical who are saving their respective worlds.
  • Visions of Europe celebrates our relationship with continental Europe in the year before Brexit and brings new and familiar European film content to young audiences.
  • Anim 18 Connections: An Animated World, focusing mainly on primary-aged audiences but with some films for secondary, will feature new and archive animated content from across the globe.

Films are mapped against the curricula of all four home nations to support subjects including English, history, geography, modern foreign languages, citizenship, politics and PSHE. Screenings range from previews of new blockbusters to popular classics, foreign language films, documentaries, animation and hidden gems from the archive. Stand-outs for secondary aged audiences this year include:

  • Peter Jackson’s First World War film – They Shall Not Grow Old – featuring century-old archive footage.
  • Documentaries Whitney (15), McQueen (15) and Human Flow (12A).
  • New Mike Leigh historical drama Peterloo (12A).
  • Second World War film Darkest Hour (PG).
  • Award-winners The Post (12A), The Shape Of Water (15), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (15), I, Tonya (15) and Call Me By Your Name (15).

Films adapted from or linked to popular works of literature will, as always, feature heavily with, among others: The Little Stranger (12A), Love, Simon (12A), Mary Shelley (12A), Journeys End (12), Testament of Youth (12) and The Breadwinner (12).

Among the foreign language titles on offer are Les 400 Coups (PG), Les Choristes (12), Goodbye Lenin (15), Summer 1993 (12A), and All About My Mother (15). Black History can be explored through titles such as Black Panther (12), I am Not Your Negro (12) and The Rape of Recy Taylor (15), and the power of social media through the films Status Update (12) and Searching (12A).

As part of our commitment to ensuring the festival is available to all young people regardless of background, ability or location, more than half the screenings offer audio-description and subtitling. This year also sees an increase in the number of autism-friendly screenings.

Image: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (20th Century Fox)


Our Into Film Festival Guides (by age-group) are designed to help schools get the most from their festival experience and include quick and easy-to-use discussion tools for before and after any film screening, suggestions for using your visit to fulfil a range of curriculum objectives, and guidance on planning a visit for teachers of students with SEN.

In addition, dedicated resources linked to this year’s programme will offer discussion questions, review starters and extension activities to encourage exploration of the films and themes within them prior to and on the day, and back in the classroom.

Resources will be available in PowerPoint format so teachers can adapt them to suit the needs of their students. Educators can supplement these activities with Into Film’s wide selection of year-round resources which offer guidance on reviewing, film-making and careers in film, as well as numerous ideas for using film to support the curriculum.

Image: Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Special events, talks and workshops

Workshops and talks will range from Q&As with directors, VFX experts, animators, professional film critics, a stunt co-ordinator and the British Board of Film Classification to discussions hosted by charities such as Anti-Bullying Alliance, Oxfam and Stonewall. Highlights of our special events programme include:

  • Behind the scenes glance at stunt work on Mission: Impossible – Fallout in Essex and Brighton and a hands-on stunt workshop.
  • A symposium at the BFI with The Academy (organisers of the Oscars) about career options in the film industry.
  • VFX powerhouse Framestore and special effects experts Artem talking about their roles in a film’s production.
  • A screening of new documentary McQueen and Q&A with directors Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhote, and producer Andee Ryder.
  • Screenings of new documentary The Acting Class and Q&As with the directors Deidre O’Neil and Mike Wayne.
  • A screening of acclaimed British release Beast with talk by director Michael Pearce.
  • A screening of Even When I Fall at the Barbican followed by discussion with directors Kate McLarnon and Sky Neale.
  • Stop-motion animator Tim Allen speaking about his work on films such as Isle Of Dogs and My Life As A Courgette.
  • Foley Artist Pete Burgis speaking at Pinewood and Shepperton studios about his role bringing sound effects to studio film productions.
  • Insights into reviewing by chair of the Critics’ Circle Anna Smith and film critic Alan Jones.
  • Film-makers from Oska Bright, a festival organised by a team of learning disabled film enthusiasts, introducing screenings of their short films.
  • A panel discussion in Glasgow on “What is classic cinema?”
  • Talks by Shakespeare Schools Festival alongside screenings of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet.
  • Talks by UK Space Agency alongside IMAX screenings of A Beautiful Planet 3D.
  • A presentation by Digital Cinema Media (DCM) on cinema advertising and films to look forward to in 2018/19.


In a survey of teachers who attended last year, 94 per cent felt the Into Film Festival was valuable in terms of the broader education of young people and 98 per cent would recommend the festival to a colleague. Events fill up fast, so check out the programme and book your free tickets now if you want to attend.

  • Sam Wilson is director of the Into Film Festival.

Further information

The Into Film Festival runs from November 7 to 23 and all tickets are free. Bookings opened on September 5 for those with an Into Film Club and September 6 for all other educators. For information, visit To sign up for a free Into Film Club, visit


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