AN ANIMATED film made by pupils at a Scottish school is hitting the big screen in cinemas throughout the UK.
The producers of Black Gold, a documentary about the impact of global capitalism on coffee producers, were so impressed by the efforts of pupils at Rosehall High in Coatbridge, that they agreed to have the youngsters' film Choose Fairtrade shown before screenings of their own.
The team of eight S1-4s had entered a competition where they had to come up with a storyboard for a 30-second advert promoting Fairtrade products. Made up of members of the school's fair trade group and its filmmaking club, they were selected from a field of 20 entries to make their film.
They used machinima, a production technique used for computer games such as The Sims that allows users to manipulate three-dimensional digital images the type of technology that was pioneered in the film Toy Story in 1995.
The competition was run by Edinburgh-based Hand Up Media, a publishing and media company that promotes fair trade and ethical issues. Schools had two weeks from the competititon launch to submit a storyboard.
Tania Pramschufer, a director of the company, says: "The beauty of this kind of project is that the kids are so keen to be involved, they decide on content, they are involved with building characters, topics, backgrounds, pace, music. To see the kids at work is truly inspiring."
When Miss Pramschufer saw the end result, she was convinced that it deserved as wide an audience as possible. She contacted the producers and asked if they would agree to Choose Fairtrade being shown before screenings of their film.
Black Gold is about the efforts of one man to save 74,000 Ethiopian coffee farmers from bankruptcy through fair trade the Rose-hall High advert has since been shown in cinemas in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling, Lon-don, Manchester, Bristol and Sheffield.
It has also been shown at the Scottish Parliament, after Patrica Ferguson, former international development minister, saw it at a fair trade event and invited the Rosehall filmmakers to Edinburgh.
Steven Purdie, acting principal teacher of pupil support and modern studies teacher, worked closely with the pupils on putting together their storyboard: "It raised their awareness about fair trade and global issues, and their self esteem particularly now that the actual film is being shown around the country."
Barbara Crowther, head of communications at the Fairtrade Foun-dation, says: "The machinima competition was a fantastic and innovative project combining learning about animation technology, the process of film making, fair trade and citizenship at the same time.
"The winning ad makes a powerful and direct appeal that if we want to tip the balance of unfair trade, whether we are young or old, we can all use our consumer power by choosing products with the independent Fairtrade mark."
The success of the competition has persuaded Hand Up Media to look at doing more work with Scottish schools.
Choose Fairtrade: www.youtube.com watch?v=sl1fjro86NU