There are so many great films that can be used with this age group. When I first developed Literacy Shed, I was teaching Y5 and developing my ‘film for writing’ pedagogy, so I have used many more short films with this year group than any other. These are my favourites but definitely not a list of films that you ‘should’ be using in Y5. That choice is up to you!
Top 5 Films for Y6 can be found here – all other year groups coming soon.
A film starring professional stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill.
The film begins peacefully with Danny rowing across Loch Scavaig to the Cullen Mountains on the Isle of Skye. The scenery in the first section, and throughout, is beautifully rugged and unspoilt. Accompanied by the enigmatic track ‘Blackbird’ by Martyn Bennett, this opening section of the film is great for inspiring setting descriptions. The action begins to increase as Danny begins his awesome ascent to the ridge.
The drone and headcam shots show Danny traversing ‘knife-edge’ ridges until he reaches the summit. The descent is just as exciting and gravity defying with one stunt making every viewer gasp with amazed delight. (Although if you watch the ‘making of’ film here you can see how many attempts it took to get right.
The film finishes with Danny looking out across the loch. I have had some great writing from this one:- simple recounts, inner monologues, newspaper reports, diary entries and setting descriptions.
Due to a global catastrophe, the Earth of the future is covered in desert. Clues in the opening vistas show that where once was sea, has all dried up and that it happened very rapidly. The only sources of water are the clouds which are controlled by vicious bands of sky pirates.
There is hope that rain will one day come…Katrina is a brave pilot, we first see her trying to evade the black planes of the sky pirates and we are left wondering what it is that she is doing. There are some clues: she has ‘the rainmaker’ blueprint taped to her control panel and a strange contraption strapped to the underneath of her fuselage. Katrina uses the machine for spraying the clouds and it is then that we see that she is trying to cause rain rather than collect the water from the clouds for her own profit.
The title of the film becomes clear as she takes on a giant gunship one last time in the middle of a cloud. This is when we find out that Katrina is the OceanMaker and this was her final mission.
Visit the creator’s website here
Ruin – a film by Wes Ball
This hyper realistic short animation is set in a post-apocalyptic landscape of derelict buildings which are slowly being taken over by the futuristic flora and fauna.
The film begins with stunning establishing shots of the city before we see a large container being ejected from the side of the ‘Haven Nanotech’ building.
The main protagonist is then seen exploring the container. He discovers a strange mobile device which seems to direct him to a mystery research facility. As he is trying to make sense of what is on the screen, the sound of rotor blades warns him that he is in danger and he needs to escape.
In the film, we see that our ‘hero’ may not be all that he seems. In one scene, it shows that his skin is a strange matrix of hexagons which glow. He then seemingly manages to power up an electrical device with his fingers. The story leads to a lot of unanswered questions which I enjoy discussing with the students. The lack of detail leads to great narrative discussions.
A young boy and his father live a miserable life. The boy has a facial disfigurement which means that he is subjected to living and working as a ‘circus freak.’ When presented with a slice of cake for his birthday, he begins to wonder what he could wish for as he blows out the candles. His monologue is heart-breaking, as he asks for a new jumper, to see the world outside and maybe some wood to whittle. The boy gets angry with his situation and directs his anger towards his father but the viewer soon realises that this is an internal monologue and not spoken out loud.
Creator, Edwin Schaap, says this about the film:
“It’s a metaphor for the expectation some parents have with their children, without seeing that they have other ambitions and their own dreams.”
Dia De Los Muertos – The Day of the Dead
In this film, we see a young girl decorating the grave of her mother. It is a sad scene in contrast to the party atmosphere in the village beyond. After a few minutes, a delicate blue flower grows from the grave. As the girl tries to pluck the flower from the ground it wraps itself around her wrist and drags her down into an underground world.
Here the girl meets a band of mariachi skeletons and a female skeleton who takes her on a fun adventure, dancing and partying across the underworld.
Soon, the festivities come to an end and the girl realises the skeleton is her mother. The film shifts back to the ‘real’ world and we see the girl imagining a motherly hug once again. At this point, she seems much happier and she skips off down the path to the party. The memories of her mother strong within her once more.