Into Film Festival Teacher Recommendation - 'Pin Cushion'

12 Oct 2018 BY Grace Eardley

5 mins
Ant-bullying drama Pin Cushion
Ant-bullying drama Pin Cushion

With the Into Film Festival fast approaching, teacher Grace Eardley is recommending one title as particularly relevant for her fellow educators and their pupils - Pin Cushion, a powerful film suitable for 16+ audiences that features in our Mental Wellbeing: Moving Minds Strand.

Following on from World Mental Health Day on 10 October, it is important for young people to engage with difficult subjects like bullying and Deborah Haywood's powerful new feature provides a perfect vehicle for doing so. Screenings of Pin Cushion are taking place across England and are supported by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Check out Grace's article below on why the film is such an essential watch for young people and educators.

Teacher Grace Eardley on Pin Cushion

At one of the recent ICO screening days I was lucky enough to be introduced to British director Deborah Heywood's debut feature Pin Cushion. I can wholeheartedly say that I was bowled over by the film's candor and bravery. It really is a must see for young audiences 16+, especially if they find themselves in the position where they are transitioning to a new location or moving from school to college.

The film tenderly and sometimes very comically explores the increasingly fractious relationship between mother (Lyn) and daughter (Iona) as they move to a new town, and Iona starts a new school. The film manages to tackle tough themes such as tolerance, disability, bullying and identity without being overly didactic or preachy; and this, from my experience of working with young people, is something they really appreciate. I think young audiences will also really latch onto Heywood's masterful casting. She chose local teenagers from the midlands to play the group of teenagers and this adds a real authenticity to their characters and their youth dialect which works to make their stories all the more relatable.

Iona's story often parallels her mother Lyn's. Lyn on one hand, is persecuted on arrival to the new town on the basis of her supposed difference through disability and appearance. In one moving scene Lyn is shunned from an adult support group; proving that bullying and mistreatment are not just a teenage issue. Meanwhile, Iona's narrative neatly parallels her mother's when she faces the devastating repercussions of technology when a sensitive image of her is shared amongst her peer group and she too is ostracised.

I think this would make a great partner film for screenings and discussions alongside other titles such as Mean GirlsLet the Right One InHeathers or We are the Best as the story takes a naïve yet charming ‘outsider' on an uncomfortable journey of transformation.

This is a really important story, which comes at an important time in the year for students who may be making their own transitions and working on forging their identity. It also nicely links closely to curriculum areas for Citizenship and PSHE. 

I really hope teachers and students can catch the film in cinemas and enjoy it as much as I did. 

Grace Eardly - Congleton High School

Grace Eardley

Grace Eardley was previously a subject leader for Film and Media and an English teacher at a secondary school where she ran 2 successful Into Film Clubs. Her commitments to film, innovative teaching and extra curricula activities were recognised in a nomination at the 2014 Tes Awards. She is one of Into Film’s longest running Educational Ambassadors and is currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research is funded by ESRC and explores using film to develop inclusive pedagogies for Neurodiverse learners specifically those with ADHD. As well her Doctoral studies, she continues to work as a specialist tutor working alongside young people with additional needs.

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