Below you will find a guide to the prescribed films for junior cycle English for the student cohorts commencing Junior Cycle in 2018.2019 and 2020, including a synopsis, themes and the film trailer.
An endearing documentary which sees seventy women of all ages tell the camera their feelings about the men in their lives. Adopting a sequential structure from youngest to oldest, “His and Hers” traces a range of feelings these women hold towards their partners, boyfriends, husbands and sons creating a love story that reaches back almost a century and resonates across the years. Heart warming and honest in its vision of love.
Ken Loach's acclaimed British drama focuses on Billy Casper, a tormented working-class boy who is subjected to abuse both at school and at home. The son of a single mother, Billy's existence is mostly bleak until he takes up an interest in falconry and begins training a kestrel that he finds on a nearby farm. While Billy forms a close bond with the falcon, his hardscrabble life and harsh environment prove to be a challenge to the boy and his bird.
Sing Street takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina, and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band… Sing Street shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.
Suffragette is a thrilling drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement; women who were forced underground by a brutal State. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes, they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Turning to violence they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality - their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping as any thriller. It is also heart-breaking and inspirational.
WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun- loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighbourhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. The competition isn‘t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, as a young boy and girl fall in love they are moved to run away together. Various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down - which might not be such a bad thing.
Amadeus was adapted from the hit play by its author, Sir Peter Shaffer. Described by Shaffer as “a fantasia based on fact”, Amadeus was inspired by persistent rumours from the early 19th century that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had been poisoned by a jealous rival, Antonio Salieri. Salieri was a successful court composer driven mad by the knowledge of his own mediocrity when compared to Mozart’s God-given genius. The film Amadeus is a celebration of Mozart’s timeless music. Amadeus was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight including Best Film.
Don Cheadle stars in this extraordinarily powerful and moving true story of one man's brave stance against savagery during the 1994 Rwandan conflict. Sophie Okonedo co-stars as the loving wife who challenges a good man to become a great man. As his country descends into madness, five-star-hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle) sets out to save his family. But when he sees that the world will not intervene in the massacre of minority Tutsis, he finds the courage to open his hotel to more than 1,200 refugees. Now, with a rabid militia at the gates, he must use his well-honed grace, flattery and cunning to protect his guests from certain death
On August 7th, 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers. After dancing for nearly an hour on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released. This extraordinary documentary incorporates Petit’s personal footage to show how he overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges to achieve the artistic crime of the century
Two rebels. One million hectares of untamed wilderness. The hunt is on. Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his grumpy foster uncle (Sam Neill) in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive in this hilarious and heart-felt adventure.
Although Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) believes she is destined to be chief of her patriarchal Maori-tribe, her grandfather is intent on choosing a male leader.She must challenge thousands of years of tradition to prove her worth and fulfil her destiny. Set amongst the beautiful coastal New Zealand scenery, this is an exploration of cultural values, gender politics and humanity’s relationship to the natural world. Critically-acclaimed since its release, Niki Caro’s film is propelled by the heart wrenching debut performance of eleven-year old Castle-Hughes, which garnered her an Oscar nomination. Suggested themes: A strong female protagonist asserting her own identity within a male-dominated society. See also: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, Charles Laughton’s adaptation of Davis Grubb’s iconic debut novel is stylised, eerie and suspenseful. After sharing a cell with a bank robber awaiting execution, misogynistic serial killer Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is released from prison. Posing as a preacher, he marries the thief’s gullible widow in an attempt to find the secret location of €10,000 her late husband attained in his final heist. Heralded by many as a masterpiece, this film perfectly blends southern fairytale with expressionist nightmare, guided by Mitchum’s superb performance. Suggested themes: A merciless hunt based in the Deep South. See also: True Grit by Charles Portis.
Hayao Miyazaki’s enchanting animation follows a young girl as she navigates her way through a mystical world. During their move to the suburbs, a family stumble across a mysterious restaurant. As her parents feast, the cautious Chihiro wanders off. Having encountered a boy who warns her to leave the strange land, she soon discovers that her parents have peculiarly morphed into pigs. Chihiro must embark on an adventure through this magical realm of Japanese mythology in a quest to save her family. From Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli, this coming-of-age story is known for its unusual plot structure, unforgettable characters and breathtakingly-beautiful animation. Suggested themes: A young protagonist on a quest through an unknown land. See also: The Wind Singer by William Nicholson.
A gentle extra-terrestrial is left stranded on Earth where he’s discovered by a troubled 10-year-old boy. The pair form an unlikely friendship, but soon realise that Earth is not a safe place for the alien, and devise a plan to return his to his home planet.The highest grossing film of the eighties, this emotional and imaginative tale succeeded in becoming one of the world’s most loved family movies, as well as cementing Spielberg’s reputation as one of the greatest directors of all time. Suggested themes: Science fiction and relationships that transcend species. See also: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
A fearless 6-year old girl lives with her hot-tempered father in a southern US bayou community. She notices that the forces of nature have started to shift: a harsh storm approaches, temperatures rise and the ice caps melt. Meanwhile, her father’s health begins to fade. In order to survive, she searches for her lost mother. Director Behn Zeitlin expertly merges dream-like imagery and mystical creatures with the harsh realities of poverty-stricken families in post-Katrina Louisiana. Nominated for four Oscars, the film’s child star, Quvenzhané Wallis, became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. Suggested themes: Poverty and characters on the margins of society. See also: Trash by Andy Mulligan and Stone Cold by Robert Swindells.
This section contains some information and resources to support you in using film to engage with the learning outcomes in the new English subject specification.
Below you will find a guide to the prescribed films for junior cycle English for the student cohorts commencing Junior Cycle in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 including a synopsis, themes and the film trailer.
Our ‘Speed Trailering’ resource for introducing the 10 prescribed films to your students has been developed as part of our Arts in Junior Cycle collaboration with the Arts Council and the IFI. In this activity students will watch a number of trailers of the prescribed films for English to select a film to watch and study in class or for a junior cycle cinema outing.
Roberto Benigni’s unorthodox comedy about the Holocaust concerns Guido, a carefree Jewish book keeper and his family who are captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in a concentration camp. In order to protect his son, Guido pretends the Holocaust is a game. Earning an Oscar for his performance, Benigni also wrote and directed this inspirational film about the strength of the human spirit. Suggested themes: A Jewish protagonist who never loses hope, despite his grim WW II surroundings. See also: Once by Morris Gleitzman
Forbidden to watch television by his religious parents, Will is introduced to the world of film when school trouble-maker, Lee, shows him a pirate copy of Rambo: First Blood. Despite their differing backgrounds, the boys are outsiders from highly-dysfunctional families. The unlikely friends set out to make a homemade sequel to the blockbuster and enter it into a young filmaker’s competition. Soon the rest of the school want to join the misfits and their amateur production. With themes of friendship, isolation and acceptance, Garth Jenning’s film is a nostalgic ode to childhood in the early eighties. Suggested themes: Children’s alienation from their peers. See also: The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan.
Rebelling against her parents’ traditional Punjabi Sikh values, the football-obsessed Jess is determined to play "the beautiful game" and joins a West London women’s team. Jess soon realises she must bend the rules in order to please her family, her teammates, but most importantly, herself. Starring current Hollywood talents Keira Knighley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in their breakthrough roles, Gurinder Chadha’s feel-good comedy possesses both heart and substance. Suggested themes: Overcoming obstacles to compete in sports. See also: Alone It Stands by John Breen.
In the early eighties, a struggling Irish family illegally emigrate to New York City in search of opportunity. They must adjust to life stateside whilst grieving the tragic death of their only son. Told from the perspective of their eldest daughter, celebrated Irish director Jim Sheridan co-wrote the semi-autobiographical (and Oscar-nominated) screenplay with his own daughters, Naomi and Kristen. The moving account of one family’s attempt to leave misfortune behind and embrace change, tackles many issues still relevant today, including bereavement, race, unemployment and emigration. Suggested Themes: Immigrants in search of the "American Dream". See also: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
Desperately in need of cash, a down-and-out wannabe rock star (played by real life rock star Jack Black) poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Realising that his class possess exceptional musical talent, he attempts to turn them into a rock band and win the local "battle of the bands" competition with hilarious results. Richard Linklater’s fun-filled tribute to classic rock will enlighten as well as entertain students. Suggested themes: Comedic impersonations and mistaken identities. See also: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Below are some suggested short films to use with junior cycle English classes.You can also explore and discover a variety of suitable short films to explicitly teach with junior cycle English classes at the following websites:
This short comedy follows an 8 year old schoolboy who is so besotted with his teacher that he challenges her boyfriend to a duel…to the death.
A farmer and his mother discuss the arrival of a strange animal amongst their herd of Limousin cattle.
This short animated comedy is about discovering the magic in what we see every day - sometimes you just have to look hard enough. The director got the idea for Signs when he noticed the boy in a ‘children crossing’ sign had been replaced with a Grim Reaper.
Based on a short by Roddy Doyle this poignant and comedic short film deftly captures the experience of being the new boy in school through the eyes of Joseph, a nine-year-old African boy.
Kelvin Kind, a wonderful loser with a heart of gold, is blissfully unaware of his own loneliness. But when a beautiful girl moves into the apartment across the hall, Kelvin’s solitary world is turned upside down. As he tries in vain to get the girl’s attention, Kelvin is soon forced to realise that being in love isn’t easy for nice guys…
The White Dress is the story of a girl on her communion day, but unlike most other little girls, she is making her communion all on her own.
A creative person often seems weird, funny and a little bit crazy. Even his friends and family do not always understand him and often feel ashamed of him. But sometimes he can create a real miracle - merely from garbage.
Meet Roy, Ireland’s only living animated character, born into an ordinary ‘live action’ family. Roy is intelligent but unfortunately for him he is badly drawn. His failure to gain steady employment finally leads him to Hollywood in search of fame, fortune and corrective surgery.
When Damien is forced to serve as an altar boy at an important mass in his local parish he faces a difficult choice: conform to the status quo or serve an extended ban from his passion in life… football. Full film can be viewed here.
Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom (My Name Is Yu Ming) is the story of a young Chinese man, who is disillusioned with his dead-end job at a supermarket. A spin of the globe leads him to choose Ireland as the destination for his new life and further research informs him that the official language of that country is Gaelic. Arriving in Dublin speaking the language, he is puzzled when nobody can understand him.