Designed for young people aged eight to eighteen years the programme focuses on a specific theme each year: in 2017/18 Place & Stories; in 2016/17 Play; in 2015/16 Climate; in 2013/14 The Long Take and in 2012/13 Mise en scène. Understanding Cinema’s creative approach to learning and teaching film encourages young people to look at their world and themselves anew and to skilfully create stories which reflect and express themselves. By creating a series of film exercises through the programme, pupils and teachers can make mistakes, discuss ideas and create authentic and exciting short films.

The programme aims to help pupils

  • gain a better understanding of European/world cinema heritage.
  • enhance their aesthetic appreciation of film.
  • develop personal confidence whilst working on a group project.
  • stimulate their creativity.

The programme consists of practical and theoretical activities delivered over 14 weeks, from autumn to June. Pupils engage with the practical side of filmmaking (scripting, shooting, editing etc.) but also reflect on already-existing films as well as their own. Each year the young filmmakers come together at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June to screen and discuss their final short films.

International Programme

Cinema cent ans de jeunesse is now an international programme with partners across the world. Each year, one of our schools attend the end of year screening at the Cinémathèque Française. In June 2018 St Charles Primary School attended with their film The Garden.

Current year

In 2017/18 we worked with pupils in eight primary schools: Granton (Edinburgh), Lorne (Edinburgh), St Charles RC (Glasgow), Glendale (Glasgow), Burnside (Angus), Inverbrothock (Angus), Mosstodloch (Moray) and Dingwall (Highlands). The topic this year has been 'Place & Stories' and the final films produced by the children, with the support of their filmmakers and teachers, screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Monday 25 June.

Past programmes

In 2016/17 we worked with pupils in six primary schools: Granton (Edinburgh), Lorne (Edinburgh), St Charles RC (Glasgow), Glendale (Glasgow), Carlogie (Angus) and Our Lady’s RC (Dundee). The topic was Play and the final films are available to watch here.

In 2015/16 Understanding Cinema took place in six schools: Granton Primary School (Edinburgh), Wester Hailes Community School (Edinburgh), St Mary’s Primary School (Edinburgh), Carlogie Primary School (Angus), Our Lady’s RC Primary (Dundee) and St Paul’s RC Academy (Dundee). The topic for the year was Climate.

In 2012/13 the Understanding Cinema pilot project worked with schools in Edinburgh and Dundee, with the subject ‘mise en scene’. In 2013/14, with the support of Creative Scotland’s Creative Futures fund, we expanded this to almost 500 pupils in eight Local Authorities, working with 26 teachers and youth workers and employing nine filmmakers. Three of the schools produced films in Gaelic. The topic in 2013/14 was The Long Take and the project film can be found here, with a shorter version here.

2013/14 Understanding Cinema took place in  Edinburgh (Broughton HS, South Morningside PS, SKAMM), East Lothian (Law PS, St Gabriel’s RC PS, Whitecraigs PS), Glasgow (St Mungo’s Academy, Castlemilk HS, St Margaret Mary’s Secondary, Glendale PS), Dundee (Blackness PS, Clepington SP, Rowantree PS, Harris Academy, St John’s HS, St Paul’s Academy), Inverness (Craighill PS, Mosstodloch PS), Aberdeen (Holy Family PS, Belmont Cinema), Isle of Lewis (Pairc PS, Nicholson Institute, An Lanntair), Argyle & Bute (Salen PS) The Understanding Cinema 2013/14 films can be viewed here.

For further info you can take a look at the 2014 project blog here or at the most recent Cinematheque Francaise blog here or follow our filmmakers journey here at Creative Futures.


If you are interested in your school/class participating in the Understanding Cinema programme, please email

Understanding Cinema is funded by Scottish Film Education.