Back-to-School Titles to Stream at Home

24 Aug 2020 BY Michael Prescott in Film Features

7 mins
Luce
Luce

Our lists of titles to stream at home come to a fitting end this week with the theme of school, to coincide with students returning to in-person education throughout the coming days and weeks after months of home learning. Mid-to-late August sees Scotland and Northern Ireland returning to school, followed by Wales and England in early September.

After such a lengthy hiatus, hopefully students are able to appreciate and enjoy the various aspects of educational experience they've been missing, many of which are highlighted by this list. The selected titles celebrate and explore the many sides of school life - from anti-bullying to friendship, teachers to extra-curricular activities - with five titles for primary audiences and five titles for secondary audiences.

Note: The information about films on streaming services is aimed at people at home only, and not for any film clubs running in schools. Licensing conditions do not permit the access of streaming platforms from a school setting. Into Film Club leaders should use our DVD service to order the films.

Note: While most streaming platforms require a paid subscription or one-off rental fee, many offer a free trial that you can make use of.

If you wish to find out the complete details of where any given title is available to watch or purchase, please visit FindAnyFilm.com.

Films for Primary

Bridge to Terabithia

This powerful adaptation of a novel is about a childhood friendship which is developed through a sense of adventure and the shared imaginary land known as Terabithia, as devised by 10 year-old misfits Jess and Leslie. One of the most significant aspects of the drama is the impact of their teacher, Ms. Edmunds, who offers comfort and support at a pivotal moment in the protagonists' lives.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 

Another book adaptation - this time from a series by an American author and cartoonist - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which spawned a film franchise of its own, follows the daily trials and tribulations of 11 year-old middle-schooler Greg Heffley and his similarly outcast friends. This is the first in a highly popular series which is very relatable and acts as a reminder that everyone has been in similarly scary, awkward or embarrassing situations during their school days.

From Up On Poppy Hill

One of the things school can facilitate in young people's lives is helping them to find and engage in new interests. Studio Ghibli's underrated anime From Up On Poppy Hill is about a group of students who are members of the school's newspaper club as they attempt to protect their clubhouse from being demolished, with preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics looming in the background.

High School Musical

Available to stream on Disney+ (Subscription required)

Something else that students may discover through school is figuring out exactly what it is that they want to do with their lives, rather than submitting to external pressures being placed upon them. High School Musical is not only a hugely enjoyable song-and-dance family drama - with a hint of Romeo and Juliet - but it also teaches us to unashamedly chase our passions, be they basketball, mathematics or singing.

Nativity! 

Some things are just quintessential when it comes to the British school experience, perhaps nothing more so than the Christmas nativity play. Nativity! - another title which proved so popular with audiences that it spawned numerous sequels - captures the chaos, energy and enjoyment of the festive experience from the point of view of children, teachers and parents alike in this laugh-out-loud comedy.

Films for Secondary

A Silent Voice

This resonant anime tackles a number of serious issues, including anti-bullying, disability, and mental health in the classroom. It sees a deaf student named Nishimiya bullied by her classmates, led by a boy named Ishida, after transferring to a new school. However the drama takes a turn; first when Ishida is turned upon and finds himself an outcast, and again when it jumps forward in time as he tries to make amends for his guilt-ridden past.

Booksmart 

Conversely, Booksmart finds the fun that's to be had both in and out of school. When two best friends who are set to graduate realise they've spent all their time studying and have forgotten to enjoy their teenage years, they decide to attempt to pack all of that lost time into one wild night. With two stellar performances and a relationship full of great chemistry at its centre, this coming-of-age comedy reminds us not to put too much pressure on academic achievements.

Easy A 

Another film with a female protagonist, delightful rom-com Easy A finds Emma Stone in the role of 17 year-old Olive Penderghast, a girl who is doing just fine until a white lie she tells to her best friend is overheard and spread throughout the school. Unfazed, she feels she can turn the situation to her advantage and help those around her at the same time. But she soon begins to lose control of the narrative, worrying about what her parents will think and how it will impact the feelings of the boy she's been flirting with, in a film which cleverly demonstrates the potentially harmful impact of the rumour mill.

Luce

A fascinating exploration of issues around race, achievement, expectations and privilege, Luce - the name of the protagonist, played by rising star Kelvin Harrison Jr. - is an adaptation of a play. It follows the eponymous young man, originally from war-torn Eritrea, but now an all-star athlete. Extremely popular and a well-rounded student, Luce is suspected by his history teacher of some disturbing thoughts after an essay he submits. This results in animosity between the two which gently builds, resulting in a tense slow-burn confrontation where the viewer must decide for themselves who to side with.

The Way He Looks

To round off the list we have the appropriately sweet and charming Brazilian romance, The Way He Looks. When a new student, Fabio, joins the school, both Leonardo - a blind high-school boy struggling to assert his independence over his parents - and his best friend Giovana develop an instant crush on him. They become a friendship trio, but their feelings remain, with no clue as to what Fabio feels about the situation. Based on the director's own short film of a similar name, this tender teenage romance is a celebration of high-school love.

Michael Prescott

Michael Prescott, Curation Coordinator

Michael has an MA in Film Studies with Screenwriting from Sheffield Hallam University. He has previously worked at the British Council and on the BFI Film Academy, and has volunteered at organisations including Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cinema for All.

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