The Into Film Festival got off to a flying start with young people all over the UK enjoying free cinema screenings, talks and workshops.  In London we kicked off with three simultaneous launch events including a cuddly gathering at Leicester Square Cineworld, where 30 pupils dressed as Paddington met Paddington 2 writer Simon Farnaby, director Paul King, and stars Madelaine Harris and Samuel Joslin at an exclusivepupil premiere of the star-studded, Studio Canal sequel.

Elsewhere in the capital our young audiences embraced the chance to quiz Agatha Christie’s great grandson, James Prichard, after watching Sir Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of her famous crime novel, Murder on the Orient Express.  We also talked to director Shola Amoo, whose docu-drama A Moving image, about the gentrification of Brixton, threw up interesting issues.

To open the Festival in Scotland, SFX company Artem treated aspiring filmmakers to a special effects workshop in Falkirk.  In Wales students enjoyed a futuristic filmic experience with a special screening of Blade Runner 2049 at the iconic Penarth Pier Pavilion Cinema, and in Northern Ireland our opener was popular favourite Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at Belfast Queens Theatre.

The first week of the Festival saw many highlights.   We’ve had 3D, scratch and sniff, and autism friendly screenings to make the magic of cinema accessible to the widest possible audience.   Secondary pupils participated in a lively discussion hosted by LGBT charity Stonewall after a showing of The Pass, the 2016 drama about gay footballers.  Equally stimulating was a screening of provocative British drama I Daniel Blake and Q&A with its starring actorDave Johns.  At Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire we welcomed Magic Light Pictures to talk about the animation process alongside Roald Dahl inspired animation Revolting Rhymes, and in Birmingham the visually stunning A Beautiful Planet, 3D was introduced by UK Space Agency explaining the importance of human spaceflight and Earth Observation.

For the next two weeks cinemas from Kilmarnock to Cornwall will be buzzing with teachers and students enjoying the big-screen experience at its best.  We’ll also be visiting home of the British Film Industry, Pinewood Studios, learning about careers in film from the people behind the Oscars, finding about film reviewing, costume design and censorship, and lots more.  Watch this space for more Festival highlights and check out the programme now as some events still have places available!

The Festival is hosted by Into Film as part of an on-going initiative to put film at the heart of young people’s learning and personal development, and made possible by support from the BFI, Cinema First, a wide collaboration with UK cinema industry partners and delivery partners National Schools Partnership.

Film titles are curated into six broad themes: Activate, Effecting Change; Let’s Play; No Borders, No Boundaries; Generation Z; History in Action; and Thriller (supporting the BFI’s blockbuster Autumn season).  Chosen with educators in mind they 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.    Screenings can also be used to support calendar events such as Anti-Bullying Week and Parliament Week, taking place during the Festival’s duration.

In a survey of teachers who attended last year:

-94% of teachers said the Festival activities were useful in helping to deliver the curriculum

-94% of teachers felt the Festival activities were valuable in terms of the broader education of young people, and

-82% of teachers said that the Festival has made them more likely to use cinema visits to support the delivery of the curriculum.

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

The Into Film Festival 2017 is taking place from 8th-24th November.  All events and screenings are free. For image or interview requests please contact Sarah Wilby, details below. For programme information, to book tickets and download resources visit

By Michael Dickinson

Michael is the VultureHound Film Editor.