The texts listed below are considered to be of literary merit and suitable for study at NCEA Level 3 and level 8 of the curriculum because they allow the students to respond critically:

Schools should adhere to guidelines available from the Office of Film and Literature Classification regarding how films should be chosen and used in schools.

Text Title

Teach It UK
Hotel Rwanda

Film Ed
Once Were Warriors

In My Father's Den

American Beauty

American Beauty works well...I've marked level 3 and most students who did it engaged with it.
Heavenly Creatures

River Queen

Out of the Blue


The Pianist

In the Name of the father

Because of them and their astonishment with the film, I learn something new every year – hence the reason I keep presenting it to them. They are well-read, often political, and have a world experiences so are able to bring a lot to their appreciation of the text
Schindler's List

Book Rags
It led to lots of discussion about using a corrupt system for good and the idea of redemption.
Run Lola Run

Teaching Notes
Life Is Beautiful

The Piano




Pan's Labrinth

Film Ed

Road to Perdition

The three burials of Melquides Estrada

World's Fastest Indian

Did a module a few years ago with a mixed ability class (co-ed but heavy on boys) called the wheel thing - looking at texts to do with cars, especially articles on boy racers and the driving age. There are a number of lovely nz short stories that fit the theme(novels too, for that matter). We viewed The Worlds Fastest Indian. It worked well.
12 Monkeys

Girl Interrupted

Book Rags
Sling Blade

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

The station agent

A beautiful mind

Book Rags

I have found “A Beautiful Mind” to work successfully at 12/13 Merit/Excellence.
The Truman show

O brother where art thou

Rabbit proof fence

The constant gardener

Film Studies

Cold mountain

Million dollar baby

Moulin rouge


Shakespeare in love

Film Ed
The quiet American

The long walk home

One flew over the cuckoo's nest



Painted veil

Revolutionary road

Away we go

Children of men

English Online

Absolutely fantastic film for Year 12 or 13. It is an R16 – we sent a letter home before teaching it and made sure all students were 16.
V for Vendetta

Is great for less able students, as well as bright students. has a number of good themes and motifs to use, as well as the fact it ties in with the world today.
No country for old men

Black hawk down

Leaving Las Vegas

Gone Baby Gone

Samson and Delilah

For my B-band year 13 class last year I used the Australian film Samson and Delilah - gritty and certainly relatable for our kids, plenty to work with and plenty of texts which support it (addressing the idea of the Stolen Generation, alienation etc). The students got some pleasing results.
Blade Runner

A lot of the students have an interest in sci fi, and I'm looking at the genre for a level 3 media studies ext on genre included in the English course.
The Hurt Locker

It's a very, very good senior text to read. Perhaps not to 'study' but if your level 3 students are doing war or courage, this might be a worthwhile film to view.

I have used it with our Military Academy... they loved it... it was great to use for 'Everyone is a Critic' at level 2 and 8835 theme for the level 3 in the academy where we are looking at War.

Yes, we are using it at Hamilton Boys’ High School with our top Year 13 English Scholarship students. We have found it to be sophisticated, complex, multi-layered and highly skilful film-making. There is absolutely enough material for an in-depth study of this film. Please do not make the mistake of thinking this is “only” a war film – check out the extended criteria for Level 3 film essays – it easily allows for excellence level responses.

Traffic is pretty gritty and you would need to make a call if it was appropriate for your class.

Babel provided great extension for those that needed it.

Those that needed things kept simple could choose to focus only on Crash which is very accessible.
Bright Star

Enduring Love

The Constant Gardener

The Pianist

District 9

I had thought about District 9 but am not sure it has enough in it for Level 3.
Revolutionary Road

Away We Go

500 Days of Summer

Painted Veil

Requires students to be sensitive to human dilemma and to be able to articulate this well. Possibly higher level students?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I thought about "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" but it might be a tad complex.
I have had huge success with this film for the past few years. My more able students fly with it but is totally accessible to all students I have found. LOVE teaching it!!

I've taught it a number of times to Level 3 and have had outstanding results every time! Artemis have a good unit that gives a solid start. Looking at the change of season corresponding to Clem's changing hair colour along with the development and eventual break down of their relationship drills well into the structure of the film as well as a number of motifs. Then linking in the idea of people manipulating feelings and interfering with others' relationships could tie in with Much Ado. As for ESOTSM...go for it!!!!
Visual Texts - Teachers will need to check the Censor’s rating for the following texts to ensure the follow the law. This web address will help:
American History X

An Education

Apocalypse Now

Blood Diamonds (R16)

Cabaret (R16)


Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Crash (R16)

Dead Man Walking

Defiance (R16)


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Fahrenheit 911


Homelands (TV Series)


Jane Eyre

Little Miss Sunshine

Midnight in Paris

Mr Pip

North Country

Pan’s Labyrinth


Pride and Prejudice




Sense and Sensibility

Summer Heights High (Mockumentary series)


The Bourne Identity

The Color Purple

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – in original form (with subtitles)
The Godfather (R16)

The Hours

The Human Centipede

The Kite Runner

The Last King of Scotland (R16)

The Lives of Others

The Lovely Bones

The King’s Speech

The Reader

There Will Be Blood

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