Film: A Language Without Borders

23 May 2018

4 mins
My Life as a Courgette
My Life as a Courgette

Film: A Language Without Borders is a new film education project for schools with high numbers of children from other countries, and below, Mark Reid, Head of Education at the British Film Institute (BFI), explains the purpose of this new collaborative, multi-national project.

European countries have for centuries welcomed groups of people from outside their borders. People who bring with them experiences, aspirations, talents - and challenges - that have enriched the countries they have arrived in. In society today, schools are at the forefront of these movements. For example, in 2015/16, German schools took in 360,000 children from other countries - that's a number the size of the population of Nottingham.

In 2017, German non-profit organisation Vision Kino, together with the BFI and the Danish Film Institute, developed a programme to help schools have conversations about migration. The programme is built around eight European feature films for children and young adults, as well as three classic short films, each with detailed teaching resources and learning activities, and complemented by research investigating the effectiveness of the approaches. The programme was successful in receiving funding from the European Union's Creative Europe programme, and runs throughout 2018, with the outcomes presented at Vision Kino's international film education conference in Erfurt, Germany, in November 2018.

The films don't deal directly with migration, but feature characters who might have arrived in an unfamiliar place (like Paddington, or Jemima and Johnny), who feel out of place in their community and want to assert their identities (Billy ElliottMy Life as a CourgetteWe Shall Overcome), or who are suddenly on their own (Palle Alone in the WorldThe Red Balloon). There are plenty of other examples, all age appropriate, from Sing Street and Fighter for older teenagers, to Ernest and Celestine and Emil and the Detectives for younger children. Most of these titles are available to order for free for Into Film Clubs, and the associated resources can be downloaded from the BFI website.

In addition, many of the films are screening as part of school events in cinemas around the UK - so far at BFI Southbank (5 June), the Gulbenkian Cinema in Canterbury (20 June), and the Glasgow Film Theatre (6, 7 and 15 June). More information about these events can also be found on the BFI website.

We hope you will agree with our sentiment that film is a language without borders and connects people regardless of their origin, age, gender and life experience!

Film - A Language Without Borders is a project of the British Film Institute, the Danish Film Institute and Vision Kino gGmbH and was developed by Mark Reid (BFI), Charlotte Giese (DFI) and Sarah Duve (Vision Kino gGmbH). It is co-funded by the Creative Europe Media programme of the European Union.

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