Click on  Features or Shorts on the drop-down menu to find recommended films which are available to buy ( and sometimes to rent) on DVD. If you subscribe to an online movie service it’s also worth checking to see if they can be found there.

Some of these are in English and many in other languages with English subtitles. If your children haven’t watched films with subtitles before don’t be put off!

Distributors, cinemas and even teachers often give the need to read subtitles as the reason they won’t buy or screen these films. But we have shown subtitled films to children in primary schools from 7 + and our experience is that when the story is gripping and the film appealing, the average young reader copes pretty easily. The small amount of research that has been done on this subject revealed that children may take a little longer than adults to adjust to reading subtitles on screen, but can do so within about 10 minutes. They will also take their cue from the adults around them – if adults are relaxed about it and don’t think of it as a problem, children will also be less likely to worry about them.. But if you think they are finding it tricky at first, you could try showing a film in 20 -30 minute ‘episodes’, so that they do not have to concentrate on the reading for too long, or just read out the occasional title that might cause problems.

We have sat in audiences at children’s film festivals in Germany and the Netherlands where children watch films in foreign languages, with subtitles in English ( foreign to them!) whilst at the same time the dialogue is voiced live in their own language, in the cinema, by an actor. It doesn’t seem to put them off!

Defining a film as a ‘ children’s’ or ‘family’ film always provokes argument. Ideas about what a children’s or family film IS  vary considerably between countries and cultures. Billy Elliot, for instance, was shown in several children’s film festivals in Europe and beyond, yet in the UK it was given a 15 certificate, which seems to have been the greatest age restriction imposed by any country; in the Netherlands it was deemed suitable for children aged 6! It’s not just about the obvious things such as references to sex or bad language but essentially whether a film conveys its story from a child’s perspective, is likely to engage children, and is respectful of them as an audience. All the films listed are films we think will engage and entertain children, and put children at the centre of the action, even though some may have been made for a more general audience. The  advice on age suitability is our own – feel free to disagree!

Please do send us your comments on any of the films here and also suggestions for others you would like to recommend. We want to build as comprehensive a catalogue as possible. We will continue to add new films to the list so do keep checking back!