UK schools invited to take part in free film screenings as part of a £26m ($40m) investment in film education.

The launch of the first National Youth Film Festival has been announced.

The nationwide programme of free film screenings and activities will be aimed at youngsters aged five to 19, and will run from October 21 to November 8.

It will allow pupils from all UK schools and youth groups to attend the cinema free of charge and will also include interactive workshops and Q&A sessions with industry professionals.

The screenings will be tied into the curriculum so teachers can use them for educational purposes.

The BFI is investing £26m of lottery funding over the next four years into the first unified film education offering for five-to 19-year-olds, which is being delivered by Film Nation UK, a new charity for film education.

The board of trustees is led by Working Title’s Eric Fellner and includes James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and director Beeban Kidron.

It builds on National Schools Film Week, which ran until 2012.

Mark Higham, chief executive of Filmclub, said: We have been working with the industry to create the National Youth Film Festival because we want to begin a long term relationship between young people and film.”

Rupert Gavin, chief executive of Odeon and UCI Cinema Group, said: “
We want our support for Film Nation UK to inspire the next generation of cinema-goers by immersing young people in every aspect of cinema, from demonstrating our cutting edge visual and audio technology, to showing the myriad innovations we have made as an industry to ensure that a trip to the cinema remains a unique experience.” 

Josh Berger, president and managing director of Warner Bros. UK, Ireland & Spain, said: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Film Nation UK to help inspire and educate thousands of young people about the film industry and the many career opportunities that lay within. The work we’ll be doing together forms a key part of Warner Bros. Creative Talent, a major new investment in UK creative industries’ skills and training for the next generation.”