Northern Ireland news

North Belfast primary school holds mini-movie festival to 'unlock the power of film'

Some of the children from Cliftonville Integrated Primary School at the recent mini-festival

A north Belfast primary school has held its own mini-movie festival in a bid to "unlock the power of film" to help children’s literacy and analytical skills.

Unable to attend this year's Into Film Festival - a celebration of film and education for children - staff at Cliftonville Integrated Primary School decided to bring the event to the pupils.

Teacher Michelle McAlonan approached the education charity, Into Film, for movie posters and banners to give the school the look and feel of a real festival.

Into Film supports educators to "deliver transformative learning outcomes for children and young people aged five to 19 in class, extra-curricular settings and in cinemas".

Its programme features the UK’s only school-specific film streaming service, online teaching resources and training, careers information, cinema screenings and a network of extra-curricular film clubs.

Ms McAlonan said by using film as an educational tool, it has had a positive impact on pupils' literacy and analytical skills.

"We have worked with Into Film for quite a few years and have always attended the festival," she said.

"We didn’t want the children to miss out this year, so we decided to bring the festival to them to give them a lift.

"I contacted Into Film and asked them if they had anything to make the school feel like the cinema and they supplied loads of movie-related items including posters, badges, and review sheets.

"The children did some fabulous work linked to the films watched and we even ran a review writing competition. The girl who won had written a lovely review about the film Wonder, starring Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts."

She said the children enjoyed "watching a film and then discussing it afterwards".

"It has been very good for the children, especially those who find it difficult to express their ideas in written form," she said.

"It really does help encourage those children who don’t usually get involved in classroom discussions.

"The relationship with Into Film has been great for the children’s personal development.

"When they watch a movie and do a literacy related activity, they don’t see it as school work. They just love talking about characters, storylines, camera and plot and it does improve their writing skills."

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