BFI expands young minds

BFI expands young minds with new under 18 offer
Great films, fun activities and learning opportunities for every age group. |

As the UK’s lockdown continues and schools remain closed, the moving image has never been more important in our lives and one of the most powerful ways young people are engaging with the world and learning. As the UK’s lead organization for film, the BFI has expanded its offer to educate and entertain young audiences aged 18 year olds and under.

The expansive programme, which is available at and via supervised access on BFI Player, has something for every age group from expertly chosen films for young children embarking on their discovery of film through to activities for young people experimenting with filmmaking as a creative outlet, as well as supporting those who are pursuing a career in the industry.

There are also more curriculum based film activities to support families and carers as they meet the challenges of home schooling, some of which is supported by our educational partner Into Film.

The BFI is committed to ensuring every young person in the UK can build a lifelong relationship with film by presenting the best age appropriate UK and international cinema. Additionally it champions film and moving image as a versatile and highly engaging medium, making it an asset to all education settings, and the hero of home learning.

BFI Education is supported by the Reuben Foundation who share a deep commitment to advancement of education, skills development and engagement in film opportunities.

5 years old and under

A break from the monotony of cartoon repeats, the BFI’s free ‘Films for Fives and Under’ archive collection offers fantastic short films ‘tested on our own curators’ children’ that will broaden minds and open up new worlds to young children. Drawn from the BFI National Archive the collection includes the very first film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (Percy Stow and Cecil M. Hepworth, 1903), made just 37 years after the novel was published. Other films range from experimental films, films with colour and repetitions, home movies, public information fillers to Victorian ‘trick’ films. Released on BFI Player on 12 May this is a fun selection of films for supervised viewing by 3-5 year olds and the young at heart.

Under 7 years old

Children can learn a new filmmaking skill and create their very own stop motion animation using a video guide produced by the BFI. Recommended to children under 7 years old, all you will need is a camera phone or tablet and a free stop motion app.

Under 11s year olds

BFI Player’s Family collection offers hours of fun and adventure available to rent from just £1. This includes 80s cult classics such as Flight of the Navigator (Randal Kleiser, 1986 – Cert U) and pioneering work from Aardman Animation with both Chicken Run (Peter Lord, 2000 – Cert U) and Shaun the Sheep Movie (Richard Starzak, 2014 – Cert U).

The BFI has produced a handful of guides to accompany films from the BFI National Archive, available to view for free on BFI Player. The resources are available to download from and designed to facilitate discussion whilst learning about London’s history whilst diving into the depths of Britain’s rich film history.

11 years and above

Bringing schooling home, the BFI has produced a number of downloadable digital resources, “BFI Education Essentials”, offering support with learning languages and media studies. The free worksheets available on covering French, Spanish and Mandarin which accompany film clips and free full length films.

To support English Literature classes and further explore works currently on the curriculum, BFI Player’s “Based on the book” rental collection, collates some of the greatest films adapted from literature. These include classics such as Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931 – Cert PG), Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright, 2005 – Cert U) and Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2016 – Cert 15).

15 years and under

BFI and its educational partner, Into Film, have produced an updated list of films to watch before you’re 15 #FilmsBefore15. These range from legendary titles to more modern masterpieces offering young people the ideal stimulus to keep them meaningfully occupied, by introducing them to new cultures and languages as well as different walks of life.

Recommended titles include Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham (2002 – Cert 12), The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939 – Cert U), I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011 – Cert PG) as well as My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras, 2016 – Cert PG).

Each film is listed with an age recommendations, streaming links and, where available, relevant learning resources.

16 years and above

Coming of Age, rites-of-passage films of multiple journeys, fruitful, painful and joyful. Films available include Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011 – Cert U) and My Brother the Devil (Sally El Hosaini, 2012 – Cert 15). Included with BFI Player subscription.

Sight & Sound Poll collection is drawn from Sight & Sound magazine’s one a decade poll to find the greatest films of all time (last conducted in 2012). This is a perfect introduction to the best of cinema, including current number one Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958 – Cert PG) as well as Fellini’s masterpiece La dolce vita (1960 – Cert 12) and Terence Davies’ debut feature, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988 – Cert 15).

Young filmmakers

BFI Saturday Clubs are now online, designed to give children and young people a safe platform to interact and continue to learn and make films together without leaving the safety of their homes.

The Mini Filmmakers’ Club are live sessions and at home filmmaking activities for children aged 8 to 11-years-old and the Young Filmmaker’s Club is for young people aged 12 to 16-years-old. From 6 June, six weekly live online session on Saturdays are followed by simple and fun filmmaking homework. Tasks can be completed using video mobile phones and free video editing programs with minimum help from parents and guardians. Price per child, £40 per term (6 June – 11 July, six sessions)

#shortitout invites filmmakers of every age and experience level to submit 90 second films. From BFI NETWORK, Encounters Film Festival and Watershed, #shortitout hopes to encourage creativity, storytelling, as well as opportunities to hone filmmaking skills and connect with their peers.

 BFI Future Film Festival has opened submissions for next year’s festival, taking place February 2021 giving young filmmakers the chance to enter their films into the Festival competition via the following link:

Beyond supporting young people with home learning the BFI offers training and resources for teachers and educators. This includes free interactive courses (MOOCs -Massive Open Online Courses) available at Future Learn on Victorian Film, Modern Languages teaching and a User’s Guide to Film Education as well as nearly 80 learning resources on the TES website.

The BFI has also published a list of recommended websites for teachers to access resources for primary school, secondary school age Modern Foreign Language and A-level film and media students.

Into Film, the BFI’s film education partner supported with National Lottery funding, is also offering extensive learning resources as well as recommending films for all ages including the latest releases on streaming platforms. The public can access these for free here.

Adult supervision is required while children are using BFI Player, all account holders must be 16 years of age.

Email AlertPlease enter your email address if you would like to receive alerts from Screen Innovation on new stories