Around the World in 80 Films

Bookmark and Share

By Danny Leigh, Film Critic and FilmClub Web and Film Manager, and Ellen Jones, Journalist and FILMCLUB Film Programmer

Your local travel agent will tell you that you can’t embark on a round-the-world trip for less than a few grand, but we at FilmClub have a much more competitive offer. We say you can do it for free, and moreover, we’ll throw in tickets for a classroom full of young, enquiring minds at no extra cost. Why? Because cinema transports you; from a darkened room in front of a screen to… well, just about anywhere.

In the twelve or so weeks of term, your film club could easily take you to as many different countries. Visit the gated communities of Mexico in La Zona (15), the finest Parisian restaurants of Ratatouille (U) or the dusty streets of Tehran in The Apple (PG). You could get lost in the Australian outback in Rabbit Proof Fence (PG), attend a lavish, Indian family celebration in Monsoon Wedding (15), and the brave might even venture as far as the South Pole with Werner Herzog’s eerie and fascinating Encounters at the End of the World (U). Even for those filmclubbers lucky enough to take regular trips to the multiplex, the fact that films can come from somewhere other than Hollywood is often a revelation.

For youngsters who weren’t born in the UK, this initiative offers them a means to explain the culture of their families to their classmates – like a grander, more articulate version of ‘show and tell’. As one 13 year old said in her review of the Iranian-set animation Persepolis (12), “I am from Iran (the country Marji comes from) and there are some in the school who know me, but do not know my history or my background, and don’t think that my country is a normal one. This [film] is a very good starting point to explain your history. I love this film and think it’s fab. Mum always explained what she went through and this made it clear.”

Though films can take you all over the world, that isn’t the only point of the trip. Great cinema is also an emotional and intellectual journey; from alienation to empathy (The Visitor; ET: The Extra-Terrestrial; La Belle et la Bete), from apathy to outrage (Hotel Rwanda; To Kill a Mockingbird; Milk), or simply from a bad mood to a better one (Singin’ in the Rain; Blazing Saddles; Duck Soup).

One FilmClub 6th Former, Ruth Broadbent admitted that before a FilmClub screening of Burma VJ, she “knew nothing about Burma… I could not have found it on a map.” Afterwards she was “aware of the suffering of its people and their bravery and unity.”

Similarly, after a screening of The End of the Line, a documentary about over-fishing, another 6th form filmclubber said, “before I watched the film I just thought it was irrelevant. I didn’t see the relevance of it at all. But when you see the massive social and economic implications of over-fishing, it’s insane… I didn’t realise that by 2048 there’s be basically no fish left!”

Like any trip worth taking, FilmClub offer myriad opportunities to see breath-taking sights, make new friends, and develop not only an understanding of lives very different from our own, but also a deep empathy for the people living them. Like very few trips worth taking, FilmClub is also absolutely free.

For more information or to set up a free film club in your school or college visit www.

Creative Teaching & Learning