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Film It's big and it's wild

Showcomotion Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. July 4-13

Today's children, raised on a blockbuster diet of fast-moving films, full of special effects and with obligatory happy endings, might baulk at foreign language films with subtitles and subtle narratives. Or so some adults assume.

Not so the staff at Arbourthorne community primary in Sheffield, an inner-city school of 400 pupils. They are taking the school to a total of 26 film sittings - 13 classes from reception to Year 6 seeing two films each - from a range of Canadian, Iranian, Danish, Dutch and British productions being shown during Showcomotion, Sheffield's film festival for children and young people, which opens today.

The largest festival of children's film in England, Showcomotion is a pound;50,000 initiative based on an intricate web of arts and education partnerships in South Yorkshire. Films on offer in the fifth year include The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Bear , a poignant animated "fairy tale" from Denmark about a boy raised as a polar bear cub, which received special mention at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival; Science Fiction, a BelgianDutch thriller based on the quest of nine-year-old Andreas Decker to find out if his parents really are aliens who want to take over the world; and the Danish production Wallah Be (nominated Grand Prix feature film at Berlin), about Aksel, a boy reluctantly facing a summer holiday at the after-school club when all he wants to do is hang around with the Muslim boys who look cool and drive fast cars.

Arbourthorne's deputy head, Joe Brian, says the festival presents a golden opportunity for the school, which serves a largely working-class white community, to gain a multicultural experience, while extending children's already sophisticated response to film.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

Showroom box office: 0114 275 7727; school bookings hotline: 0114 276 3534; (with teacher resource pack)

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