Family viewing movie selections to watch at home this week

Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea - Credit: Supplied by Royston Picture Palace / Saffron Screen

It’s half term this week, and we hope that all the students, parents and teachers are enjoying some time off home-schooling.

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner - Credit: Supplied by Royston Picture Palace / Saffron Screen

Here Rebecca del Tufo, programming manager for Saffron Screen and Royston Picture Palace, selects a few films to watch during the holiday.

We thought we would pitch in with some recommendations to cut through the daily discussion of what film the whole family is prepared to sit down and watch – and these are all films that anyone can enjoy – but which may not be the most obvious choices.

Whatever your view, we are definitely in a time when politics is interesting and vital.

In Alexander Payne’s satire Election (15, iPlayer), Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is an obnoxious high school overachiever hated by popular teacher Mr McAllister (Matthew Broderick), after she got his best friend fired.

When she appears a shoo-in for student council president, he does everything he can to stop her winning.

It will give you plenty of opportunities for family discussion, not least because it is layered and smart and not always politically correct.

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Another hugely intriguing film, which will spark discussion and debate with older kids, is the documentary Three Identical Strangers (12A, All4).

It tells the stranger-than-fiction story of three men who make the chance discovery, at the age of 19, that they are identical triplets separated at birth and adopted by different parents.

The trio’s joyous reunion in 1980 catapults them to fame but also sets in motion a chain of events that unearths an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes far beyond their own lives. A seriously incredible story.

Teenagers will enjoy Now Is Good (12A, iPlayer), adapted by Ol Parker from Jenny Downham’s young adult novel Before I Die.

The film follows 17-year-old Tessa, diagnosed with terminal cancer and determined to work her way through a teenage bucket list of thrills she is determined to experience before she dies – including losing her virginity and taking drugs.

It’s a tear-jerker but thanks to excellent performances and Parker’s intelligent direction, it avoids melodrama.

We are big fans of Wadjda (PG, Mubi), which was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia – and by a female director.

It is the story of a spirited 10-year-old girl in a suburb of Riyadh, determined to raise enough money to buy a bike in a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue.

As well as pushing boundaries, it’s a hugely enjoyable film, with humour and entertainment behind the thoughtful polemic, and offers a rare insight into Saudi daily life.

While we all spend a lot of time with our families, we can enjoy The Farewell (PG, Amazon Prime).

When a Chinese-American family discovers their grand-mother in China is terminally ill, they decide not to tell her, instead organising an impromptu wedding as a pretext for one final family gathering before she dies.

But New Yorker Billi (Awkwafina) struggles with her family’s decision.

A wonderfully handled mix of love, grief and humour, this tender story is inspired by a similar event in writer/director Wang’s own life and deftly broaches ideas of familial duty and cultural difference.

Younger kids with an interest in the world will enjoy The Breadwinner (12A, Netflix).

This Oscar-nominated animated parable of empowerment and perseverance tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana who lives in Taliban-ruled Kabul.

When her father is put in prison, Parvana has to disguise herself as a boy so she can venture out alone and become the breadwinner for her mother and siblings.

This is a remarkable, enchanting tale about the power of stories to inspire hope for older children and adults alike.

If you want to share a family Western, watch Fort Apache (U, iPlayer), the first film in John Ford’s famed cavalry trilogy (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande are the others and are also on iPlayer).

Henry Ford and John Wayne lead a strong cast in this film which features roughhouse camaraderie, sentimental vignettes of frontier life, and massive action sequences staged in Monument Valley.

We have talked before about our love of Ghibli films.

This week’s recommendation is From Up on Poppy Hill (U, Netflix), a beautiful and affecting coming-of-age animation, set in Yokohama in the 1960s as Japan prepares for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

A pair of teenagers fall for each other during a campaign to save their school clubhouse but then find obstacles in the path of their love.

A gorgeous-looking story with a tender, captivating atmosphere.

Another enchanting and visually stunning animation is the hand-drawn Song of the Sea (PG, Amazon Prime).

Steeped in Irish myth and legend, the film so adroitly mixes the magical and the everyday that to watch it is to be wholly immersed in an enchanted world.

It tells the story of Saoirse, the last seal-child or ‘selkie’, who goes on an epic journey with her brother in order to save the world of magic and discover the secrets of their past.

A wonder of breathtakingly gorgeous storytelling.

Our final suggestion this week for family viewing is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (PG, Netflix), directed by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

It tells the true story of a teenager in Malawi who used his physics education and DIY abilities to come up with an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine.

It’s moving and inspiring, and feels very authentic, not the glossy film that Hollywood might have made.