Online teaching resources from the BFI

Date Posted: 05/03/2015

If you think you might be teaching the next Mark Kermode, then you’ll be interested in the resources available online from the BFI.

The British Film Institute doesn’t just teach film studies though; there are downloadable PDFs with questions and exercises relating to Science, Technology, Art and Design, Creative Writing and English too. 

Alongside each set of questions or activities there are video clips from the films to stream online and suggestions of where to source the films in their entirety, such as Into Film.

Sci-fi in the Classroom

Time travel through cinema history with the BFIs stellar selection of sci-fi films from the earliest silents and inventive animation to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

To accompany these titles, teachers have created a cosmic collection of resources and lesson ideas which explore how science fiction can energise a range of subjects from English and Music to Physics.

Boldly go where no teacher has gone before and discover how Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out (1989) can help teach aerodynamics in space, or how 70s eco-classic Silent Running (1972) and Kenyan short Pumzi (2009) illustrate the ethical and environmental impacts of technology.

Lesson example: English and History for Key Stages 3- 4

Film: Village of the Damned (1960)

This lesson uses Village of the Damned along with Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) to analyse, compare and contrast the reflection of historical context in mid-century film.

Both films could be seen to address anxiety that the solidity of British and American post-war life might be overturned, using the metaphor of alien invasion.

While Body Snatchers is well-known as an analogy (for some) of perceived communist threat, or, conversely, of blithe trust in McCarthyist conformity, the British-made Damned uses the bedrock of the nuclear family as its starting point; the emerging cultural prominence of the teenager could also be incorporated here.

This project is suitable for English lessons incorporating media to teach analysis of social and historical context, and may also be useful for History schemes of work on the Cold War, as a starting point for how culture responds to international threat.

Lesson Objectives

• To understand and analyse how metaphor has been used to represent a political concern
• To place a narrative within its social and historical context
• To compare and contrast two depictions of a social and historical context.

Curriculum Links

• Relate texts to their social, cultural and historical contexts; explain how texts have been influential and significant to self and other readers in different contexts at different times.
• Explain and evaluate how writers use linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational features to achieve effects and engage and influence the reader.

• Understand, analyse and make valid historical claims from a range of representations and interpretations of the past as part of an historical enquiry.

Gothic in the classroom

There’s also a gothic selection of films to indulge in. 13 by 13 – is 13 specially selected gothic films that the BFI thinks students should see by the age of 13.
From captivating animation and classic international cinema to a freshly-restored silent treasure from the BFI National Archive, its collection of gothic titles offers something for every pupil.

Each title is intended to challenge and build on young people’s – especially those who are already fans of Twilight and Harry Potter – understanding of the gothic tradition, and to encourage a broader engagement with the art of film.

To accompany the 13 titles, a collection of resources and lesson ideas has also been created by teachers in a range of subject areas – from Science and Art and Design to English and Drama. The resources have been especially designed for children at the age of 13.

For more information visit

Pictured: Still from Village of the Damned (1960).

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