Analogue Sunset. The Educational Role of the British Film Institute, 1979-2007.

This paper traces key features of the BFI’s evolving strategies for film education in UK schools during the final 25 years of the analogue era. Historically, the BFI did much to establish the characteristics of film study, but it also embodied tensions which have continued to preoccupy educators, such as the relationship between the instrumental use of film to support the curriculum, and learning about its intrinsic and distinctive qualities as a medium, or about its ideological function in society. The paper also addresses the question of whether «film» on its own constitutes a valid area of study, or whether it is more properly studied alongside television as part of «moving image media». The BFI has played a key role in exploring these issues and in exemplifying how film, or moving image media, can be taught to younger learners, but the internal vicissitudes it has constantly experienced have always pulled its educational activities in different directions. The central argument of this paper is that film education –and indeed media education in general– should be an entitlement for every learner, not something offered only to a minority or provided as an optional extra. The key projects described in this paper indicate some of the ways in which a publicly funded cultural institution can intervene in educational policy and practice.

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