Films take their turn in schools' spotlight

21st October 2005 at 01:00
Every day children are bombarded with powerful messages via the moving image, Film Education director Ian Wall pointed out at the launch of the 10th National Schools Film Week.

"Now, more than ever," he said, "we need to help them to become an informed and confident audience; to interpret and question while they enjoy what they are watching."

Schools Film Week, running from October 31-November 4 in Scotland (this week in the rest of the UK), caps an increasingly busy film education calendar. Founded by Film Education in 1995, its mission is clear and simple: to instil a love of cinema in children and place it at the heart of the curriculum.

As the eminent critic Derek Malcolm remarked: "We know that schools teach literature I the arts in general, but sometimes movies are at the bottom of the list." Last year over 125,000 pupils across the UK took part in Schools Film Week; for at least seven days films are at the top of the list.

NSFW Scotland has worked closely with Edinburgh's Docspace to develop a special programme for Scottish schools on the documentary film. A series of masterclasses in all three major cities - Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow - will involve leading cinematic figures, such as the Sunday Times's Brian Pendreigh, Ae Fond Kiss star Atta Yaqub, Mark Stephen of the BBC and British Board of Film Classification examiner Brian Cooke.

There are also screenings across the country, from Dumfries to Inverness, mixing new talent with some of the more enduring cinema classics, and there is an added dimension through the study guides and interactive elements accompanying major films. These can be accessed online or through CD-Rom.

Serious cineastes will want to be at the Edinburgh Filmhouse for a special screening of the works of French genius Jean Vigo, La Talante and Zero de Conduite.

The programme also offers plenty of opportunity for subject tie-ins.

Projects on race and multiculturalism would benefit from a viewing of To Kill a Mockingbird, arguably the greatest film ever made on the subject, or Ken Loach's treatment of interracial relationships in Ae Fond Kiss.

History teachers will be interested in Downfall, a reconstruction of Hitler's final days. Bruno Ganz's landmark performance as the Nazi dictator is the most complex and detailed ever attempted.

Younger audiences are well catered for. A highlight is likely to be Howl's Moving Castle from Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind Spirited Away (also screening this year). Most eagerly welcomed is likely to be Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-rabbit, now showing widely.

Film Education takes a great deal of pride in reaching out to all students.

In the past two decades over a quarter of a million children have experienced their first film through Film Education, including those whose sensory impairments would usually exclude them from enjoying a movie. This year there will be an extended programme of special screenings for deafhard of hearing and blindpartially sighted children, taking the Schools Film Week mission that step further.

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