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Emotional Wellbeing

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Often in films we can relate to a character even if they are very different from us, as we are invited to understand and empathise with their internal world. Children's Mental Health Week takes place 1st 7th February this year and focuses on the theme ‘Express Yourself'. The films on this list can help raise issues around emotional wellbeing and can be used to understand complicated emotions that might be difficult to put into words.

This list contains films where characters are faced with challenging situations and respond in a variety of ways, some more beneficial to their wellbeing than others. Their stories can be used to stimulate conversation about expressing oneself and the many forms emotions can take.

A Wrinkle in Time

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration109 mins

A Wrinkle in Time(2018)

Thirteen-year-old Meg must travel throughout the universe to find her father who has been missing for four years.

Bullied in school for the unusual disappearance of her father, Meg feels disconnected from others her age. When three magic beings appear and take her and her little brother to multiple dimensions, Meg starts to believe in herself and how to lead.

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Believe

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration95 mins

Believe(2013)

Touching fictional tale about legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby helping a talented but wayward young footballer fulfil his dreams.

Struggling with exam pressure and still dealing with a terrible loss, young George’s self-esteem is at a low when he resorts to stealing to try and fund his way into a football competition. Revealing the circumstances behind his acts of desperation, this film also seeks redemption for its young and troubled hero.

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Big Hero 6

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration98 mins

Big Hero 6(2014)

Action packed Disney animation with a lovable robot and a cool teenage scientist.

Talented Hiro is initially reluctant to hone his robotics skills at university, preferring instead to take part in shady backstreet botfights. Encouraged by his older brother to challenge himself and expand his skills, Hiro’s newfound ambitions are nearly shattered when tragedy strikes. With the support of his new lab mates, Hiro finds a way through his grief in action.

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My Neighbour Totoro

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration82 mins

My Neighbour Totoro(1988)

Sweet, imaginative animated fable about a girl and her sister who move to a forest which is full of friendly spirits.

Satsuki and her sister Mei overcome difficult times and get used to their new home by becoming at one with their magical woodland surroundings and making friends with the benevolent creatures they discover there.

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Bridge To Terabithia

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration93 mins

Bridge To Terabithia(2007)

Charming family fantasy film following the adventures of two ten-year-old misfits, based on the popular novel.

Outsiders Leslie and Jess escape into a fantasy world of their imagination and encourage one another’s creativity, and hatch plans to conquer the bullies that are terrorising their school.

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Trolls

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration92 mins

Trolls(2016)

Princess Poppy and Branch set out on a dangerous mission to save their friends from the Troll-eating monsters who have taken them hostage.

Lead by the chirpy Princess Poppy, a group of trolls go on a mission to save their friends from always-moody Bergens. This colourful and music-filled adventure explores the ever-changing world of emotions and their importance.

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The Good Dinosaur

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration101 mins

The Good Dinosaur(2015)

Prehistoric adventure about a lost young dinosaur who must have the courage to face his fears and find his way home.

Feeling inadequate as he can’t keep up with his siblings’ progress, Arlo finds the strength he needs to prove himself when he is accidentally separated from his family and makes new friends to help him find his way back home. Befriending and taking care of a young human called Spot makes Arlo realise that he can make his mark after all.

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Song of the Sea

CertPG

Age group5–11

Duration92 mins

Song of the Sea(2014)

A beautiful and touching animation based on an Irish folktale about a little girl who turns into a selkie.

When Ben and his little sister Saoirse are moved away from their island home onto the mainland with their grandma, they long to return home to their lonely father. To make the journey back however Ben must learn to be patient with his little sister Saoirse, whose muteness he cannot understand.

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Where The Wild Things Are

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration99 mins

Where The Wild Things Are(2009)

Max, a nine-year-old boy, runs away from home after an argument with his mother and soon meets a group of giant monsters who make him their leader.

Expanding on the much-loved children’s illustrated book, this adaptation brings the monsters to vivid life and explores the motivations behind young Max’s rebellious behaviour and desire to run away to a kingdom where he is the centre of attention and feels more in control.

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Eighth Grade

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration94 mins

Eighth Grade(2018)

A 13 year-old girl endures her final week of eighth grade, navigating the perilous world of social media and the end of middle school.

Met with the challenges that come with change and growing up, Kayla creates Vlog-style videos on her Youtube channel. Often torn between her authentic self and finding acceptance in school, the film spans her journey in to expressing her real self.

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Tomboy

CertU

Age group7+

Duration79 mins

Tomboy(2011)

An understated, gentle French drama about Laure, a child struggling with her gender identity and trying to make friends in her new neighbourhood.

When newcomer to town Laure introduces herself to new friends as Mikael, she finds freedom in her new male identity. However, the pressure of keeping up appearances start to take their toll, especially as a close friendship starts to develop with neighbour Lisa.

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Short Term 12

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration93 mins

Short Term 12(2013)

Foster worker Grace is forced to confront her own emotional bruises when a new resident moves in who reminds her a little too much of herself.

Providing a safe space for young people who have been through troubled times is a demanding job, but incredibly rewarding for dedicated Grace. She learns a valuable lesson about taking her own advice and making time for herself when buried feelings are triggered by a newcomer.

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Rocks

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration91 mins

Rocks(2019)

After suddenly being abandoned by their mother, a young girl must care for her little brother on the streets with the support of her new friends.

In this moving yet joyful drama set in London, Rocks, a highly independent and smart young girl, learns to be vulnerable and lean on her friends as she faces incredibly difficult scenarios alone.

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The Hate U Give

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration133 mins

The Hate U Give (2018)

A young girl is drawn to activism and protest after witnessing the police shooting of her childhood friend.

After witnessing police brutality up close, Starr becomes aware of how differently she is treated as a young Black girl at a predominantly white school. Exasperated at having to hide her truth, Starr becomes inspired by protesters demanding an end to systematic racism.

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Grandma

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration79 mins

Grandma(2015)

Elle Reid hits the road with granddaughter Sage, visiting friends and old flames, in order to raise $600 for the teenager’s planned abortion.

Love and loss are explored in this touching comic road movie about Elle, who is attempting to help out her granddaughter Sage but in order to do so must confront her own significant but painful decisions that were made in her past.

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A Monster Calls

Cert12A

Age group11–16

Duration108 mins

A Monster Calls(2016)

A boy struggling to cope with his mother’s illness finds himself visited by a fantastical monster.

Facing difficulty both at home and school, Conor’s internal world manifests into scary nightmares. This fantasy film looks at the necessity of express oneself and how imagination can be a positive outlet.

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