Into Film Festival highlights - what not to miss

20 Oct 2016 BY Elinor Walpole

6 mins
April and the Extraordinary World
April and the Extraordinary World

Our annual Into Film Festival takes place from 9 - 25 November, and as ever, we're excited to share a programme of entertaining and engaging films from around the world. This year we've divided the programme into six curatorial strands to help you navigate towards topics that most interest you. Find out more about how we've curated our strands on the Festival Programme page, and listen to us discuss some of our highlights on our new Festival podcast.

What makes a film festival special is the wide variety of events, many of which are rare opportunities to catch something truly unique on the big screen. This year we've brought in some fantastic Modern Foreign Language films, and our selection for Primary audiences includes the thrilling and beautifully stylised animation depicting the Spanish legend of El Cid, and German-language treat My Friend Raffi, featuring a young boy on a madcap mission to save his pet hamster after it's accidentally taken hostage! For older Primary audiences there's French mystery with April and the Extraordinary World, an animation adapted from a graphic novel that imagines a disastrous Paris without scientific innovations, and a budding young scientist working secretly with her talking cat to put things right. For the littler ones, we have another delight from Germany in the charming, eco-friendly adventures of Maya the Bee (note: screenings are taking place in both the original German with subtitles, and with English dubbing).

The natural world is always spectacular to behold on the big screen, and there are many films in the festival that celebrate our planet - as well as more fantastical worlds - in our Weird and Wonderful strand. Two especially charming films for young audiences about appreciating and protecting nature are Minuscule, a non-dialogue epic mini-beast adventure, rendered in charming Claymation, and Oddball and the Penguins, the strange-but-true story of a wayward dog in Australia whose help is needed to protect a town's endangered penguins.  

Festivals are also a wonderful way to immerse yourself in visions of other cultures, and we have a great selection of titles that provide a window onto the world. Primary audiences will love meeting Tamil boys Periya and Chinna, who will do anything to try a slice of pizza in Indian comedy-drama Crow's Egg. From South Africa comes the fantastically musical tale of talented young performer Felix, a boy from a poor township finding his feet with the help of some new friends when he earns a scholarship to a private school. For Secondary audiences, another musical treat is The Idol, the true story of a budding young Palestinian musician who enters a national talent contest that helps him overcome personal tragedy. Also from Palestine, the Speed Sisters impress in an adrenaline-fuelled documentary that follows the progress of Palestine's only all-female motor racing team as they battle against opposition from more conservative elements of society to make an impact on the male-dominated racing scene.

The Into Film Festival also showcases films that are ripe for discussion, and that will get young audiences talking. The role of protest in bringing about change is highlighted in civil rights drama Selma, while the power of self-expression to challenge society is explored in Sonita, in which an Afghan rapper faces being censured because she is a girl in a country where its illegal for females to sing. Also good for post-screening discussion is Adama, a moving animation about an African boy who find himself embroiled in the horrors of World War One when he goes in search of his missing brother (the Edinburgh screening of which will feature a talk from a representative from Africa in Motion). 

We also have thought-provoking films exploring more personal issues, such as My Skinny Sister, a film told from the point of view of a preteen witnessing her older sister's battle with anorexia; and Tomboy, a sensitive French drama in which a young person experiments with their gender identity.

The Festival also provides an opportunity to experiment and broaden tastes with short film programmes. Taking you on a rollercoaster ride of different stories, situations, and filmmaking styles, shorts programmes allow you to experience the excitement and variety of the festival experience all in one sitting, with some gems from the British Council and Encounters.

We hope to have piqued your appetite for the Festival, but keep in mind that the films mentioned above are just a tiny selection from a huge menu of cinematic treats. The Into Film Festival features a whole range of films chosen to suit all tastes, with special events to provide behind-the-scenes insights and film industry knowledge. If you've been inspired to take advantage of what our Festival offers, why not browse the full programme? You're sure to find something to fuel your students' or members' curiosity and deepen their understanding of the incredible power of film.

Elinor Walpole, Film Programmer

Elinor Walpole , Film Programmer

Elinor has a BA in English Literature from the University of Warwick. She has worked as Education and Community Officer for Picturehouse Cinemas, and as Outreach Coordinator for Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

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