Young storytellers on the scene

Film Nation UK and TES bring you the National Youth Film Festival

Much like your first romance, films seen in childhood often make an indelible impression.

Dame Helen Mirren recalls adoring Disney's Cinderella: "I remember the absolute magic of that movie as a little girl, and you can imagine I wanted the big dress; I got the big dress!" says the actor, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the British monarch in The Queen.

For actor Sir Ian McKellen, star of The Lord of the Rings, it was the classic French film Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot ("Mr Hulot's Holiday") that made its mark: "It is very funny - (it is) about the English abroad and what fools they make of themselves," he says. "Sweet, with a beautiful tune that goes through it, and you'll laugh your head off."

Tom Hiddleston, who plays a lead role in the film War Horse, will never forget watching David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia with his father when he was 14 years old. "I sort of grumbled because it was old, but then I realised that it was absolutely monumental and I've never forgotten it," he says.

It is the power of film to engage, enthral and educate that has inspired a three-week National Youth Film Festival, launched earlier this week by Film Nation UK in partnership with TES, which will run from 21 October.

Film Nation UK is a new organisation that builds on the work of the education charity Film Club and First Light, an initiative that helps young people to develop film-making skills. It has won support from the cross-industry body Cinema First as well as funding to deliver the British Film Institute's education scheme for 5- to 19-year-olds.

The festival will feature film-making workshops in cinemas and schools, give out awards to aspiring young auteurs and screen films chosen by youth juries across the country. Teachers will be able to access free educational tools and online resources, along with toolkits to help students run their own in-school or community film festival.

"We hope the festival will inspire a lifelong engagement with film for young people in terms of making, watching and understanding films in English and foreign languages," says Mark Higham, chief executive of Film Club. "Film broadens horizons, stimulates young people's imaginations and encourages communication between students, communities and countries.

"Film is the most advanced form of storytelling. Not only do we want young people to discuss films, we hope the festival will encourage them to develop their own voice."

The National Youth Film Festival runs from 21 October to 8 November. Visit

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