Five teenagers in black Eden Court t-shirts staring forwards. One is lying full length on the floor. The other four pose crouched behind her.

Eden Court Youth Board: Empowering Young Programmers

Empowering in-house young programmers can have a real impact on growing young audiences, as demonstrated by the recent success of Eden Court’s BFI Film Academy Recommends film offer.

(This article forms part of our ongoing Education in Cinema project, supporting exhibitor-led film education across Scotland. The project is funded by Screen Scotland)

BFI Film Academy Recommends is a free monthly film screening for 16 – 25 year olds, delivered by Eden Court Highlands in partnership with Glasgow Film Theatre. It is supported by funds from the National Lottery. Beginning in 2021, the BFI Recommends programme strand initially involved Eden Court screening titles chosen by GFT’s Youth Board with accompanying pre-recored material also produced by the GFT Youth Board. These same films also screened at GFT’s own BFI Recommends monthly slot. While audience figures at GFT were buoyant, they proved more hit and miss at Eden Court. So, in December 2023, the GFT and Eden Court Education teams took the decision to hand over programming responsibilities for the Inverness screenings to Eden Court’s own You Board. The hope was that this would lead to greater engagement with local young people. The results have been hugely encouraging and we’re very grateful to Eden Court Youth Board member Callum Wilson for sharing with us the following inside take on the impact of this new approach.

Medium portrait shot of a smiling Callum Wilson,a youth with short blonde hair wearing a black Eden Court t-shirt and lanyard. Youth Board member Callum Wilson

BFI Film Academy Recommends at Eden Court – An Inside View (Callum Wilson)

There has been a recent change to our monthly free screenings for young people at Eden Court in Inverness. Since Christmas, the films screened as part of the youth cinema offer have been chosen by us: The recently returned Youth Board. I am Callum, and I’m a new member of the Youth Board at Eden Court.

The board is comprised of young people from schools and colleges across the Highlands and aims to increase the engagement amongst local young people in programming and viewing films. Every month Eden Court holds a free BFI Recommends screening in partnership with Glasgow Film Theatre for people aged 15-26, to provide an opportunity for young people to view films that they might not ordinarily see. Each Youth Board member is given a calendar month where they get to choose a non-mainstream, independent or international film that they feel would be of interest to young people. We put forward a list of suggestions and Paul MacDonald Taylor, Head of Cinema at Eden Court, helps us with what’s available to screen.

We started with Joe, who chose the excellent French crime classic La Haine, followed by Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block and then the brilliant Withnail and I. Keri, who chose to screen Carol, said that:

“The youth board opens up opportunities for people to come and see films they wouldn’t be able to see normally. We are given the agency to choose for ourselves what we want to see, share the films we love with others and gain invaluable programming experience.”

Nine Youth Board members with black Eden Court t-shirts and blue lanyards pose on a stage in front of a black curtain. The Eden Court Youth Board

My own choice was The Double Life of Veronique and I was very pleased to be able to introduce others to one of my most important filmmaking influences – the cinematic work of Krzysztof Kieślowski. Pleasingly, we have seen a large rise in attendance at the screenings and our goal is to build a community of like-minded cinema lovers who can programme and talk about films with each other.

I feel that the trust given to the youth board members also increases the responsibility to properly promote the films to our respective schools and incentivises reaching out to more young people to attend the cinema. Now that we get to choose films to screen, the onus is on us to put bums on seats!

We are always looking for new members so if you live in the Highlands and are interested in joining our Youth Board at Eden Court you can email Drew Tremlett, the Engagement Producer in Film, at