Filmclub provides new opportunities for learning

Bookmark and Share

A new initiative to set up free film clubs and activities in state primary and secondary schools across the UK has been launched by Filmclub.

The scheme provides access to 60,000 diverse titles via an interactive website on which youngsters can also post reviews and find out more about the film industry. Teachers receive free induction sessions and on-going web and telephone support.

According to Flimclub, films are equally valid in encouraging critical understanding as books, and can have huge educational benefits.

Sabrina Broadbent, Filmclub’s Schools Support Manager, said: “Filmclub is a national organization that supports teachers to set up after school film clubs in state schools. We listen to what children say about the films that they watch and the experience of watching in a safe and happy place.

“We are interested in their ideas and responses to films, in their growing awareness that there is an extraordinary culture of world cinema out there which they wouldn’t know about if they were just to visit their local multiplex. Filmclub is about informal learning, learning by stealth, memorable learning, pleasure, curiosity, challenge and imagination.”

Julie Leahy, of St Saviours Church of England Primary School in Kent, who uses Filmclub, said: “My film club is run for the upper junior school (9-11 year-olds).  It’s a great opportunity for them to use and give a real-life context to some of the skills that we teach in class.  One example is literacy, as members enjoy writing reviews for the FILMCLUB website.   Discussing the films is a great opportunity to develop skills such as speaking confidently, persuading others and listening.    

"In maths we create tally charts and frequency tables based on opinions of the films we’ve watched and sometimes use the data to create charts and diagrams.  In drama the children love to act out parts of the films and in geography we look on our globe at where some of the films were made."

The recent Cambridge review of primary education highlighted 12 aims for each pupil.   Since its pilot in 2007 and its national rollout in 2008 (aiming to reach 7000 schools by 2011) children and teachers have been talking to Filmclub in a way that fully reflects the report’s aims. These are listed below.

‘As a rural school,Filmclub will open communication to a huge outside world.’ (Teacher, Kent)

‘I haven’t been to the cinema for one and a half years because I am in foster care. I like watching films at Filmclub because it is peaceful and we get to eat. You can also focus on the film and watch it on the big screen.’ (James, Liam and Ben, 11)

Filmclub’s interactive website invites and supports a community of film debate among young people with nearly 6,000 active reviewers and weekly prizes for reviewer of the week. It is a rare opportunity for young people to write for a real audience without being assessed or mediated by a teacher.

Young people are given the chance to participate in a dazzling array of events including special screenings and visits from industry talent. Filmclub’s  Industry Interaction Programme demystifies the film industry and give young people access to actors, directors, writers, producers, special effects technicians, casting directors, reviewers and other industry professionals.

Filmclub makes it clear that the club belongs to the young people, not their teachers or their parents and pupils value it highly for this autonomy. ‘Don’t make it anything to do with the curriculum. If you do they won’t come. They get enough of that in lessons.’ (Pupil, London, 16)  Filmclub supports young people in making interesting film choices and fosters positive dialogues through the website, its ambassador scheme and competitions.

Encouraging respect and reciprocity
Filmclub’s rich and extensive, themed website is constantly updated providing children and teachers with a wealth of ideas for adventurous programming - for example: The dark side of fast food: Super Size Me, Fast Food Nation, Delicatessen, Ratatouille, Our Daily Bread; Movies about oil: There will be blood, Three Kings, Local Hero, Written on the Wind; The genius of Doctor Suess: Horton Hears A Who? The Grinch That Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat …

‘Film enables us to see the world through the lives of others and to seek out, and maybe even create, a level of tolerance and respect for the views of others – something that, at this point in our history, may well be more critical than at any other.’ (Lord Puttnam, keynote speech, Filmclub event, November 2008)

Promoting interdependence
Filmclub’s reviewing section on the website allows young people to see what their peers think about particular films. The teachers’ forum is an invaluable tool for teachers to share ideas and challenges in film programming and beyond.

‘Running film club for the school has made an incredible difference to Cynthia. She’s more confident and responsible. It’s transformed her, being supported by the team at Filmclub to make a meaningful contribution to the life of the school.’ (Head of Sixth Form, London)

Celebrating culture
Strong clubs lead by inspirational teachers are quick to see the potential afforded by Filmclub to take their children on a journey well beyond the mainstream cinema fare: Persepolis (Iran), Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain), Rabbit Proof Fence (Australia), The Battle of Algiers (France), The Night of the Hunter (US)

Through links, a variety of search tools and a sophisticated editorial content, Filmclub’s website enables young people and teachers to wander blissfully far from the beaten track Oscars and the local multiplex.

‘I was most surprised when they declared their love for The Cave of the Yellow Dog! It’s a Mongolian film, very documentary in style, subtitled, and with non-professional actors. They just totally accepted it and loved watching it. That’s a film they would never have seen without Filmclub.’ (Teacher, London, BBC Radio 4, Front Row)

Fostering skills
Uploaded footage of school visits from professional reviewers such as Tom Sutcliffe and Nigel Andrews, Producers such as Robyn Slovo, directors such as Kevin MacDonald and actors such as Lesley Manville and Thandie Newton has given thousands of children access to the other side of the silver screen.

Exciting imagination
‘When I watched 2001, I honestly thought my head would explode. I had never imagined such ideas could be communicated in that way through sound and light and … pure, incredible, breathtakingly audacious imagination. (Pupil, Manchester)

Enacting dialogue
Filmclub encourages debate and discussion.   This was a question put to The Chancellor [then Gordon Brown]. ‘We watched Hotel Rwanda yesterday. The peacekeepers were not allowed to shoot, even though they were under attack, and I just wanted to know what you thought of this? And secondly if the UN peacekeepers are shown to be helpless what good can come from that?’ Abdillahi (Age 17)

If you’d like to find out about setting up a free film club at your school visit


Creative Teaching & Learning