Friday, February 16, 2007

Gordon Brown and Thandie


Brown raises curtain on school film-sharing schemeAlexandra Smith
Thursday February 15, 2007 EducationGuardian.co.uk
Schools will have access to films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign language titles as part of a pilot programme to bring a wider range of movies into the classroom.
The chancellor, Gordon Brown, will today launch a film-sharing initiative on a visit to a school in north-west London. The scheme aims to give 10,000 schools across the country access to up to 400 film titles.
Mr Brown said greater exposure to world cinema would deepen children's understanding of different cultures and ideas. The new programme will be known as Film Club.
He said: "We want every young person to be able to use their school facilities outside normal school hours for sport, arts, music or other constructive activities.
"Film Club is a great example of how schools can offer young people the chance to do something engaging and exciting at the end of their school day. For the first time, Film Club will allow young people to watch a much wider range of films from world cinema together and discuss them in groups.
"We all know films can inspire us to think more deeply about the world around us, learn about different experiences and cultures and think creatively about bringing our own ideas to life.
"The movies shown by Film Club can be both entertaining and educational, but, most encouragingly, they get young people talking about the issues and ideas raised and wanting to see and learn more."
Teachers and pupils will be able to access films via a website, Filmclub.org, where they will also be able to write reviews and rate the movies.
The scheme, backed by the UK Film Council and EducationGuardian, is being piloted in schools across Yorkshire, London, Kent, Surrey and Northern Ireland.
Mr Brown will be joined at St Augustine's CE high school in Kilburn this afternoon by the film director and Film Club founder Beeban Kidron as well as by the actress Thandie Newton.


Stars in their eyesAlexandra Smith attends the premiere of a school film club in London, featuring the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and director Beeban Kidron Friday February 16, 2007EducationGuardian.co.uk Gordon Brown and director Beeban Kidron launch 'Film Club' at a school in London. Photographer: Graeme Robertson
You would be hard pressed to find a school day that attracts more fanfare than one that has famous faces from Britain's film industry on the guest list.
Or so you would think. But it wasn't Crash star Thandie Newton or The Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald who left the teenagers star-struck yesterday. Even Macdonald's newly acquired Bafta went virtually unnoticed.
As the pair, joined by Bridget Jones - Edge of Reason director Beeban Kidron, wandered from classroom to classroom chatting to groups of pupils at St Augustine's CE high school in north-west London, it was the chancellor, Gordon Brown, that had the youngsters in awe. They hung on his every word.
Newton may have name-dropped that she was friends with Oprah Winfrey (failing to raise an eyebrow from the hard-to-impress teens) but the pupils were far more enthralled with the chancellor's interest in football. Many even tried to impress him with claims that if they didn't make it as a football manager, the next best job would be in politics. As chancellor, of course.
Mr Brown, Newton, Macdonald and Kidron were at the school to launch Film Club, a film-sharing programme to give 10,000 schools across the country access to up to 400 film titles.
Film Club was the brainchild of Kidron - a friend of the chancellor - who has been trying to get it off the ground for at least two years. Her idea is simple. Schools will have access to films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign language titles. They will watch them, discuss them and then review them.
Kidron wants to use her favourite medium to open the eyes of youngsters to world events, to get them thinking about everything from international politics to popular culture.
She has managed to persuade some of the leading names in British film to back the project. But her real trump card has been Mr Brown.
And he was clearly a supporter of her idea. He said: "Film Club is a great example of how schools can offer young people the chance to do something engaging and exciting at the end of their school day. For the first time, Film Club will allow young people to watch a much wider range of films from world cinema together and discuss them in groups."
Mr Brown may have boasted to the school assembly that Macdonald was heading to Hollywood for the Oscars later this month and described Newton's acting ability as brilliant, but when he told them he had just returned from India where he met the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, there were shrieks of excitement from the girls.
"Yes, I know I am name-dropping," he told his delighted audience. Newton may know Oprah but it was the chancellor who knew exactly how to impress the 16-year-olds.

Gleeful Gordon It's been a busy week for Thandie Newton, what with the Baftas on Sunday night and numerous engagements at London Fashion Week. Somewhat more surprising, however, was her meeting yesterday with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.Indeed, I gather that the Crash actress had such an enjoyable time with Gordon Brown that she nearly missed the Giles show."She got to the show just in time and a little merry," says my source in the Mo√ęt VIP Room. "Thandie explained that she'd been helping Brown launch Film Club, a new initiative that aims to give schools access to thousands of movies. Beeban Kidron, the director of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is also involved."A spokesman for Brown tells me how delighted he was by the actress's participation."The Chancellor is very pleased that Thandie and others are giving up time to visit schools and talk about Film Club," he says. "It's a fantastic opportunity for children."

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