Swanwick Hall School pupils quiz film director Debs Gardner-Paterson

Pupils from Swanwick Hall School had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were given the chance to quiz acclaimed film director Debs Gardner-Paterson about her smash-hit film Africa United, during an exclusive webcast with education charity FILMCLUB.

The Swanwick students are members of the nationwide charity – which helps schools set-up free film clubs for pupils to watch a variety of movies from past and present.

The youngsters were able to ask the director about making the 2010 hit film, which follows a group of children on a road trip across Africa, showing a side to the continent that the director says few people get to see.

The film, nominated for a British Independent Film Award in 2010, is a positive tale that deals with some difficult issues.

The young film fans had the opportunity to ask the director about the themes raised in the movie, including poverty, illness, overcoming adversity and the nature of friendship.

They also asked her about the practicalities of making a film on location in Africa.

Speaking after the interview, director Debs said: “I really enjoyed it! I’ve done quite a few Q&As now with the film, and I have to be honest that kids and teenagers always ask the best questions.

“It was great to have the mix of interview style and live questions coming in on Twitter, and really cool to answer a mix of story questions and practical filmmaking details. I reckon there are some budding filmmakers in the film clubs from the type of thing that was asked!”

The webcast, broadcast from FILMCLUB’s head office in London, was available to the charity’s 7,000 school memberships to view live online, with nine lucky schools invited to ask the director questions via FILMCLUB’s Twitter feed.

The webcast was organised as part of the charity’s ‘Power of Film’ campaign, which celebrates film’s powerful ability to transform lives - bring people together, inspire them, or reveal previously undiscovered worlds, cultures, stories, times and issues.

To demonstrate the ‘Power of Film’, FILMCLUB is hosting special events and screenings like this in schools around the UK, followed by discussions about the powerful effect film has on its viewers in numerous ways.

Now operating in more than 7,000 schools with close to 250,000 members meeting each week, the charity – which provides thousands of classic and popular films to watch, discuss and review – sees the impact film has on school children on a weekly basis.

The charity has recently been nominated for major national prize at the prestigious Charity Awards 2011.

For even more information about FILMCLUB, visit the website www.filmclub.org