Into Film Festival 2016

Written by: Sam Wilson | Published:
Film Education: A Shaun the Sheep event at last year’s Into Film Festival (Image: Into Film)

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

“Working in an area of social disadvantage, visiting the cinema is not a regular occurrence. In fact for the majority of our children the Into Film Festival is the only time they are able to go. Our educational budget is limited so the fact the screenings are free is particularly welcome. The festival is loved by children and staff alike and the films themselves provide an unparalleled catalyst for planning a plethora of exciting tasks, activities and learning opportunities across all subjects.” Margarita Acklam, Broadway Junior School, Sunderland

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.

With 3,000 free screenings and workshops, many linked to topical themes or subjects in the curriculum, the world’s biggest youth film festival seeks to creatively involve 450,000 five to 19-year-olds and their 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, will 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 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; British titles and documentaries will also feature. Mapped against curricula from across the four nations and regions, and supported by the festival’s various educational resources, learnings from these titles can be applied to a wealth of subject areas.

The Strands

The six festival strands this year are:

  • Weird and Wonderful.
  • Game Changers.
  • See It Be It.
  • Words Can Hurt
  • Culture Shock
  • Black Star.

Curriculum links, clearly highlighted for each strand to help when choosing events, include English, history, citizenship, PSHE, geography, modern foreign languages, art and design, and science. Discussing and reviewing films is encouraged to support literacy.

Weird and Wonderful

With a strong primary focus, Weird and Wonderful delights in the power of imagination and offers up magical and fantasy worlds, talking animals and alternative realities with films such as Finding Dory (U), The Secret Life of Pets (U), Yellowbird (PG), Alice Through The Looking Glass (PG) and Goosebumps (PG).

Also in this strand are titles exploring the wonder of nature including Swallows and Amazons (U), Oddball and the Penguins (U) and the new IMAX film A Beautiful Planet 3D (U) which will be on offer in multiple IMAX screens across the UK.

A Beautiful Planet (Image: Disney 2016)

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. Among them are Dahl adaptations James and The Giant Peach (U), Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (U) and Matilda (PG) – all of which support the Anti-Bullying Week 2016 theme Power for Good (see page 33 for more) and can also be used to mark the Roald Dahl centenary. Other titles to promote discussion about how our choice of language can impact on others include Eleanor’s Secret (U), Boxtrolls (PG), Charlie Brown and Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie (U), and touching Irish animation Song of the Sea (PG).

Matilda (Image: TRISTAR 1996)

Culture Shock

Culture Shock, incorporating titles like Inside Out (U), The Good Dinosaur (PG), French films Zarafa (PG), A Long Way North (PG) and Belle and Sebastian: The Adventure Continues, ET: The Extra Terrestrial (U), and classic adaptation Bedknobs and Broomsticks (U), will encourage young people to consider how changes of environment, significant life transitions, and being out of step with the social norm can affect people.

Zarafa (Image: Soda Pictures All Rights Reserved)

Game Changers

With films such as new release The BFG (PG), Shakespeare inspired Gnomeo and Juliet (U), and Studio Ghibli favourites My Neighbour Tortoro (U), Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (U) and Spirited Away (PG), 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.

Spirited Away (Image: BUENA VISTA 2001)

See It, Be It

See It, Be It focuses on narratives that feature aspirational and positive role-models and celebrates strength in all aspects of diversity – gender, LGBT, BAME and disability. Titles for primary include Zootropolis (PG), Frozen (PG) and Tomboy (U).

Tomboy (Image: Pecadillo Pictures 2011)

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 and film-makers. Primary titles which will resonate with a young audience include All Stars (U), The Princess and The Frog (U) and Annie (PG).

Resources and inclusivity

Teaching resources linking to each of the festival strands will be 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 including the Anti-Bullying Alliance 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.

Magic Light Pictures will be accompanying screenings of their newest animations Room On The Broom and Stick Man with a demonstration of the animation process at venues across the UK.

The BBFC will host lively discussions about classification, award-winning visual effects company MPC will speak about the work they did on Disney’s The Jungle Book, and – appearing at the festival for the first time – will be representatives of the Roald Dahl Museum and Roald Dahl Estate.

Also, 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.

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 pupils 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.

Other notable venues for this year include the Welsh National Assembly, Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, a village hall in the Vale of Glamorgan, a barn in Dartington 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.


In a survey of teachers who attended last year’s festival, 98 per cent felt that the 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 is 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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