Student film critics sweep the board

2nd October 2017

Stratford-upon-Avon College has triumphed in a national film review competition.

Budding film critics from the College have, for the first time in Into Film’s ‘Review of the Week’ history, managed a clean sweep, with every single winner coming from the College’s A Level Film course. Funded by the British Film Institute, Into Film is an educational organisation which promotes the use of film in the teaching of all students.

Katie Jellicoe, 17 from Solihull; Harry Gibbons, 16 from Stratford-upon-Avon; Ellie Checketts, 16 from Birmingham; Eve Flude, 16 from Coventry; and Lauren Heath, 16 from Solihull, were all awarded the Review of the Week accolade, with Katie recognised as the official overall winner.

film making course Stratford-upon-Avon College
A Level Film students (left to right) Katie Jellicoe, Harry Gibbons and Ellie Checketts, with lecturer Sarah Downing

Katie, who wants to work in the film industry, both behind and in front of the camera, is thrilled to have won Review of the Week with her analysis of the film Submarine directed by Richard Ayoade. “It’s one of my favourite films. I thought it would be really good to write about because it uses a lot of experimental filmmaking techniques. There’s a lot of interesting cinematography and the characters are really likeable.”

Harry reviewed the recently released horror film IT directed by Andrés Muschietti and clearly enjoyed not only the film but the review writing process. “I think I’ve caught the film review bug a little bit. Film criticism is definitely something I’d like to consider in the future.”

Both Katie and Harry have nothing but praise for the College’s Film course, which they credit with giving them the tools to write their winning reviews. Katie said: “I tried to mix my own opinions with film analysis and subject terminology we’ve been introduced to on the A Level course by Sarah. We’ve been taught so much in just the first month; it’s exciting to think about what else we’ll pick up.”

For Harry, it has also changed his attitude to film viewing and made him much more aware of the complexities of the film-making process. “The course is great. Whenever I watch a film now, I find myself thinking about why the director has used a particular shot and its effect on different audiences. It really changes the experience of going to see a film for the better.”

Sarah Downing, A Level Film lecturer at the College and an Ambassador for the Into Film Club always encourages her students to take part in Into Film’s competitions as often as possible, but says this success is far beyond her expectations. “It’s difficult to believe that when they wrote their reviews they had only been studying Film for a week. I’m immensely proud of them and look forward to seeing them flourish in their future careers.”

And next on the agenda for the budding film critics? Sarah will be setting them the task of reviewing Joe Stephenson’s 2016 film Chicken. They even have a visit from Joe himself to look forward to; he will be at the College on 10th October for a screening and to take part in a Q&A session, sharing his industry-insider knowledge of the film-making process.

The five students’ reviews can all be found on the Into Film website at