Into Film Festival 2017

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Into Film? Actress Rosamund Pike with pupils at an Into Film screening (Image: Into Film)

The annual Into Film Festival takes place in November with 3,000 free screenings and events. It is the world’s largest film education festival. Sam Wilson looks at what’s on this year

“I cannot state how wonderful this experience was for my pupils. I felt honoured to be able to take some of these children to the cinema for the first time. I believe this is a trip which they will remember and think back on for a very long time. I teach in a deprived area and this trip was very special for staff and pupils alike.” Teacher, Into Film Festival 2016.

For three weeks this autumn teachers can take students to the cinema for free and use the immersive power of film to engage young minds in a host of topics at the Into Film Festival, which takes place from November 8 to 24.

There is a varied programme featuring 3,000 free screenings and events aimed at five to 19-year-olds, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum.

Building on the success of last year, which saw more than 470,000 people attend, this year’s event is aiming to actively involve 500,000 young people and educators from all backgrounds and corners of the UK in watching and making films, some for the first time.

The festival is supported by all the major UK cinema chains and screening venues range from the British Library, the V&A, the BFI Southbank and Pinewood Studios to a secret bunker in Scotland, a farm in Wales, and an Ark in Northern Ireland. The festival also includes IMAX screens and 3D and 4D experiences.

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, and is supported by the BFI, Cinema First, a wide collaboration with UK cinema industry partners and the delivery partner the National Schools Partnership.

The programme

This year’s programme is curated with the following six themes in mind to spark discussion about a broad range of issues:

  • Activate: Effecting Change
  • Let’s Play
  • Generation Z
  • No Borders No Boundaries
  • History in Action
  • Thriller (supporting BFI Thriller autumn season)

Engaging: Films at this year’s Into Film Festival include The Eagle Huntress (Sony) and The LEGO Batman Movie (Warner Bros)

The selected film titles will address representation of diversity, and explore the many ways we can and do effect change on a personal, local and global level, the value and innocent joy of creative play, what it’s like to be a young person growing up in the modern world, and topical issues such as bullying, immigration, discrimination and the environment.

The array of stories on offer can be used to support learning across a wealth of subject areas including PSHE, citizenship, English, geography, history, modern foreign languages, design and technology, and politics.

Accessibility and inclusivity are key aims of the festival with more than half of the programme offered as audio-described, subtitled or autism-friendly.

Film titles will include blockbuster premieres alongside classics and hidden gems from the archive, spanning modern foreign language and animation, to films adapted from books and plays. One strand, Thriller, has been programmed by young people from Into Film’s Youth Advisory Council, and the BFI’s Film Audience Network-led, Young Programmers Network.

Big animations for primary schools feature strongly with films like Despicable Me 3 (U), Sing (U), Cars 3 (U), Moana (U), Lego Batman (U) and Lego Ninjago (U). Thought-provoking documentaries such as the award-winning The Eagle Huntress (U), and ecologically focused titles An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (PG) and A Beautiful Planet 3D (U) are spread across the programme, as are classics including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (PG), To Sir With Love (PG) and Tron (PG).

Book-inspired film adaptations will, as always, be a key feature. This year possibilities include, among others: Beauty and the Beast – two versions, 2017 (PG) and 1991 (U), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (U), Captain Underpants (U), Miss Peregrine and the Home for Peculiar Children (12), Swallows and Amazons (PG), Matilda (PG), Aladdin (U), and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (PG). From overseas we’re offering films like Spanish adventure Zip & Zap and The Marble Gang (PG), French animation My Life as a Courgette (PG) and South African drama Felix.


Mapped against curricula from across the four home nations, the titles are supported by the festival’s various educational resources featuring discussion questions, review starters and extension activities for use on the day and back in the classroom, where screenings can continue to serve as a stimulus for a variety of tasks. In response to teacher feedback, many of the resources will this year, for the first time, be in PowerPoint format so teachers can adapt them to suit the needs of their students.

A review writing competition provides added opportunity for using the Into Film Festival to support literacy and critical thinking. Festival guides, including one for educators of students with SEND, will be available to help you get the most from your visit.

Special events and workshops

Q&As with big name film-makers and industry experts ranging from cinematographers, production designers, camera-operators, sound engineers, costume designers and prop-makers to writers, directors, producers and actors, provide a rare chance for students to learn about the film industry and careers within it first-hand. Screenings hosted by leading charities will offer further opportunities for discussion and debate. Highlights of our special events programme this year include:

  • The UK Space Agency speaking alongside IMAX screenings of A Beautiful Planet 3D.
  • Demonstrations of the animation process by Magic Light Pictures to accompany screenings of their newest animation Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes.
  • The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) hosting discussions about the role of the examiner and classification issues.
  • Screenings and Q&As to support Anti-Bullying Week introduced by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Ditch the Label.
  • Scratch and Sniff events alongside screenings of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
  • Screenings at venues like Edinburgh Zoo, Ark Farm and Folly Farm, followed by tours of the animal enclosures.

The impact

In a survey of teachers who attended last year, 94 per cent said the festival activities were useful in helping to deliver the curriculum, 94 per cent felt the festival activities were valuable in terms of the broader education of young people, and 82 per cent said that the festival has made them more likely to use cinema visits to support the delivery of the curriculum.

One attendee, Andrew Denton from Meadows Primary School, said: “The children have a great experience that they recall throughout the year. If teachers book early they can plan to transform this enthusiasm into a wide range of learning experiences in the second half of the autumn term.”

The Into Film Festival is a school trip to remember, an opportunity for memorable learning and a springboard for further engagement with film. Screenings fill up fast so check out what’s on in your area and book your free tickets now.

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

Further information

The Into Film Festival 2017 will take place from November 8 to 24. All screenings and events are free. Bookings are now open. Visit

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