Unleash the power of film education


The Into Film Festival takes place in November, when schools and students will be able to access a wealth of educational opportunities. Sam Wilson previews the event.

“I think the festival is a great opportunity for students to not only learn in a different environment but experience things in a different way. It helps develop relationships between students and also teachers and students – it’s surprising the impact it can have. I think film in general is a great medium for learning in lessons, looking at characters, plot lines, culture and history – there’s a lot to work with.” Jamie, a science teacher at Fortismere School in London.


New and exciting opportunities for teachers to harness the educational value of film and share an enriching day out with their pupils are on offer to every school in the country at the Into Film Festival 2014 – the world’s largest film festival for children and young people, taking place from November 4 to 21. 

With 2,700 free screenings and workshops, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum, the festival’s packed, three-week programme seeks to creatively involve 300,000 five to 19-year-olds from all backgrounds and corners of the UK in watching and making films, many for the first time. The event will build on the success of last year’s festival, which saw more than 200,000 young people attending more than 1,300 special screenings and events. 

Re-named as the Into Film Festival and 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 the National Schools Partnership and supported by cross-industry group Cinema First.

Highlights will include exclusive premieres and previews of new feature films including the historical drama The Imitation Game, in which Benedict Cumberbatch stars as mathematician and Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing.

More than 140 quality films will be screened in 508 cinemas across the UK including classic and popular titles from all round the world and incorporating different genres and styles of film-making.

Following consultations with educators across all four nations, screenings will cover subjects including English, maths, science, modern foreign languages, history, geography and music, with the aim of bringing subjects to life outside the classroom and increasing pupils’ engagement.

Many titles will have multiple subject connections and additional links to the areas of PSHE, citizenship, PE, ICT, design technology, art and design, and religious education. A strong emphasis on post-screening discussions and review writing will provide opportunities to develop pupils’ literacy and critical skills, and encourage them to think in fresh and different ways about topics ranging from slavery to Shakespeare.

Curriculum-linked teaching resources or informal film guides containing synopses, discussion questions and links to other recommended titles will be provided alongside most films screened to facilitate further exploration of the films and the themes within them.

Screenings, resources and special events will support the different strands of the festival, one of which will be devoted to set texts with screenings of adaptations such as The Tempest (PG), Much Ado About Nothing (12A), Private Peaceful (12A), Pride and Prejudice (U), and Touching The Void (15).

Modern languages too will be a key theme with films from the Goethe and French Cultural Institutes adding to the range of titles available.

Of the 13 different strands which make up this year’s festival, several are linked to calendar events taking place within its duration, including Parliament Week, Anti-Bullying Week, Black History Month and Remembrance Day. Representatives from organisations such as the BeatBullying Group, Oxfam and the Refugee Council will contextualise relevant screenings with introductions and Q&A sessions, giving young people the chance to learn more about, and share their views on, topics such as cyber-bullying, heroes, immigration and inequality. Discussions will also take place around issues such as film classification and copyright with support from the British Board of Film Classification and other industry bodies.

There will be a strand devoted to teen evolution, with screenings ranging from the James Dean classics East of Eden (PG) and Rebel Without A Cause (PG), to recent titles such as Ender’s Game (12A), Boyhood (15), Here And Now (12A), and The Fault in Our Stars (12A).

A strand commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will encourage audiences to consider different articles in the Treaty – the right to a childhood (including protection from harm), the right to be educated, the right to be healthy, the right to be treated fairly, and the right to be heard. 

In support of the BFI’s celebration of sci-fi programme, running from October to January, there will be screenings of 10 great classic and contemporary science fiction films. A compelling selection of films will highlight the theme of extreme survival and the Cinerama strand will provide opportunities to enjoy a wide choice of commercial and independent hits from the past year. 

A series of six lesser known European and international titles about children recommended by the director Mark Cousins, and screenings celebrating the animation house Laika, whose films include Coraline (PG), Paranorman (PG) and the upcoming release The Boxtrolls (PG), will add to the festival’s rich and varied programme.

Special attractions will include a showcase of short films made by young people with learning difficulties from the Oska Bright Film Festival for disabled artists, attended by the film-makers, and Q&A sessions with film-makers including Harry Potter director David Yates and actress Imelda Staunton. 

There will be a language workshop at the French Institute, and in Stratford upon Avon representatives from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will speak alongside a screening of Much Ado About Nothing about how it fits in to Shakespeare’s body of work and life. Our “How To Be a Purple Cow in the Film Industry” career talks will provide an insight into different types of roles available and how to approach developing a career in the film industry.

Workshops by creative professionals will enable young people to learn about different aspects of filmmaking. Showcasing films made by young people will also be an important element of the festival, with a youth-made short film – voted for beforehand by Into Film members – shown before every screening.

Also shown before each screening will be a 35-second short film to encourage young people to respect intellectual property, made by Aardman Animations and inspired by the 13-year-old winner of Into Film’s UK-wide “Creating Movie Magic” competition held earlier this year in partnership with Industry Trust and the IPO (Intellectual Property Office).

One of our key aims is to make the festival accessible to all young people, including those in disadvantaged or remote areas – many of whom have never before visited a cinema. Screenings will be held in cinemas across all the major chains, and a range of venues across the UK from the ICA in London and the Millennium Centre in Wales, to independent cinemas on the Shetland Islands and the Isle of Skye. 

Satellite-linked Q&As across multiple venues will enable more young people to share a unified experience, asking questions live to industry speakers. There will be autism-friendly screenings and, for sensory-impaired attendees, subtitling and audio-description, so that every young person in the UK, whatever their background, level of ability or geographical location, can benefit socially and academically from a group visit to the cinema.

In a survey of last year’s festival, 92 per cent of attending educators said they saw the broader educational benefits for their students and 71 per cent said they were more likely to use film or cinema visits to support delivery of the curriculum. 

If you are a teacher who already uses film in the classroom, the festival will provide you with stimulating new ideas and tools to develop your use of this inclusive and powerful medium.

If you haven’t yet explored the huge potential that film has to stimulate young people’s imaginations, broaden their horizons, increase empathy and tolerance, and spark their interest in a wide range of issues, the Into Film Festival is the perfect place to start.

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

Further information
The Into Film Festival 2014 will take place from November 4 to 21. For information and to book tickets, visit www.intofilm.org/festival

CAPTION: Action! (From top) Films at this year’s Into Film Festival include 12 Years A Slave, the Long Walk To Freedom, documentary InRealLife, and Private Peaceful.


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