Into Film Festival 2019

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Silver screen: Films on offer at the Into Film Festival include the remake of Disney's classic, Dumbo (image: Walt Disney Pictures)

Themes at the 2019 Into Film Festival include climate change, rebellion and mental wellbeing among others. The event runs from November 6 to 22 and is curriculum-linked. Sam Wilson explains

UK schools are once again being offered the opportunity to attend free cinema trips and access free resources through the Into Film Festival.

Returning for its seventh year, the event runs from November 6 to 22 and is the world’s largest free film festival with 3,000 screenings and 200 special events. Its many themes and topics can be utilised by educators across the curriculum.

The festival is hosted by Into Film, a charity that aims to place film at the heart of young people’s social, cultural and educational development. It is supported by funding from Cinema First, the BFI and a collaboration with the UK cinema industry.

Other high-profile partners of the festival include UNICEF, which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Stonewall, the Anti-Bullying Alliance, UK Space Agency, and Oxfam. Screening venues will range from cinema chains across the UK to more unusual ones, such as Stirling Castle, Kinema in the Woods, and Pinewood Studios.

The festival’s programme spans a wide variety of diverse stories, topics and genres and provides access to speakers, special events, review writing and careers activities.

The range of films includes special previews to animated films and documentaries and the programme is mapped against the curricula of all four home nations to support subjects such as English, modern foreign languages (MFL), geography, history, PSHE and citizenship.

Stand-out events for primary school students include collaborations designed to help them explore issues around climate change. Indeed, the festival will launch with a series of events across the UK and based around the new documentary 2040, which has been cited as the first film aimed at young audiences to offer a hopeful response to youth “eco-anxiety”. Screenings will take place across 40 locations with a Q&A with director Damon Gameau live streamed to every venue.

Supa Modo: A young girl's dream of becoming a superhero is threatened by terminal illness (Image: One Fine Day Films)


There are also premieres of Biggest Little Farm alongside a UK network of Greenpeace speakers the following day and Q&As with environmental production company Green Screen, which works to reduce the environmental impact of the production industries. These activities will be specifically targeted to upper-primary and lower-secondary pupils. Other primary highlights from the three-week programme include:

  • Screenings of Pick of the Litter with Guide Dogs UK and the Royal National Institute of the Blind.
  • Multiple films with STEM learning themes.
  • Screenings of Secret Life of Pets 2 and March of the Penguins 2 with interactive animal education service, Wee Critters.
  • Screenings of Dumbo alongside both a Foley workshop and an Anti-Bullying Alliance talk.
  • Sing-along screenings of The Greatest Showman.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans: A British comedy of the best-selling Horrible Histories stories by Terry Deary and of the 2009 and 2015 BBC series (image: Altitude Film)


Other pupil premieres include Welsh language film Deian a loli, Abominable and Supa Modo, and further primary film highlights include Singin in the Rain, Missing Link, Mary Poppins Returns, The Red Turtle, Aladdin and Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans.

This year’s festival is comprised of eight strands:

  1. Mental Wellbeing & Identity: Aimed at opening up discussion around young people, identity, and mental wellbeing.
  2. Language & Creativity: This strand will centre on how language, in all its diverse forms, affects almost every moment of our lives, both positively and negatively. This strand includes titles in modern foreign and indigenous languages.
  3. The Natural World: This strand aims to enlighten us about those creatures and environments that we share the world with. Many of these titles help introduce young audiences to themes of friendship, kindness, looking after others, and dealing with loss.
  4. Exploring History: In a year that takes in the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the 50th anniversaries of landing on the Moon and the Stonewall riots, and the bi-centenary of Queen Victoria’s birth, cinema continues to turn to history as a means of engaging audiences. The films in this strand will tell stories of remarkable events – those large and small, triumphant and infamous, ancient and modern – in ways aimed at provoking, stimulating and inspiring.
  5. Debate: This strand explores how film can be an extraordinary tool for igniting debate and developing our understanding that issues and individuals are complex, nuanced things. The titles in this strand inspire empathy, provoke conversation, and encourage young people to look at the world in a slightly different way.
  6. Fantasy & Adventure: Based on the simple premise that of all the pleasures that film provides us, few are as pure as the capacity it offers for escapism, and an ability to take us into worlds beyond imagination.
  7. Rebellion: Encompassing many stories – from establishing ourselves as individuals and challenging the status quo put down by previous generations to being the only person to believe in the seemingly impossible.
  8. Musicals: This strand complements the BFI’s autumn blockbuster season and celebrates one of the most enduring and loved genres in cinema. The strand has been curated with the help and guidance of Into Film’s Youth Advisory Council, and the BFI’s Film Audience Network programming groups.

2040: The film addresses practical solutions to environmental concerns with the hope that the film-maker's daughter, who will be 21-years-old in the year 2040 will face a hopeful future (Image: Together Films)


For schools, there are festival guides by age-group and dedicated teaching resources linked to this year’s programme on offer to encourage exploration of the films and the themes within them prior to and after screenings.

More than half the screenings offer audio-description and subtitling. This year also sees an increase in the number of autism-friendly screenings.

  • Sam Wilson is director of the Into Film Festival.

Further information & resources

The Into Film Festival runs from November 6 to 22 November and all tickets are free. Bookings are now open. For details and to reserve, visit www.intofilm.org/iff19bookings. For more information on the Into Film Club initiative, visit www.intofilm.org/clubs


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