Every school in the city is to receive a copy of an acclaimed film which documents 100 facts detailing Birmingham’s contribution to the world.
DVDs of More Canals Than Venice, directed by Birmingham film-maker Steve Rainbow and produced by former St Basil’s head of fundraising Blair Kesseler, will be distributed to all 435 schools in the city thanks to the generosity of Aston Business School and the King Edward VI Charity.
The film focusing on Birmingham’s heritage explores 100 facts about the city, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the invention of plastic and lawn tennis and the work of the world’s most famous micro-sculptor Willard Wigan.
The film has generated a huge amount of interest since its release, with screenings both home and abroad.
For a short time it was available on YouTube, receiving more than 10,000 views online in just three days from people as far away as the USA, China, India and Australia.
It also received industry recognition, being shortlisted for the Best Factual Programme category in the 2014 Royal Television Society Midlands Centre Award.
The move to give each school in the city a copy of the film stemmed from a special preview screening that took place at the Birmingham & Midland Institute in the city centre shortly after it was completed.
The idea was mooted at a Q&A session following the screening and soon after Aston Business School and the King Edward VI Charity, which runs the King Edward VI Schools in the city, stepped forward to help it become a reality.
Mr Rainbow said: “The film essentially cost nothing to make, just the money we had in our pockets at the time and lots of sweat and tears.
“I basically used all my knowledge as a film producer to simplify everything and look at the production requirements in a very practical and realistic way.
“I have to say the film would not have been possible if it had not been for the dozens of people who helped us with their time, permissions and interviews.
“After the first screening we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who saw the film and thanks to the kind sponsorship from schools and colleges liaison at Aston University and the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, we are now able to distribute a copy to every school in Birmingham, promoting the city to the key citizens of the future.”
Carole Parkes, director of social responsibility & sustainability at Aston Business School, said: “When I saw the film, I immediately thought that this was something we should have at Aston because as a proud Brummie it tells the amazing history of Birmingham and the illustrious people who lived her and still live here.”
Denis Ramplin, director of marketing and communications for the King Edward VI charity, added: “We believe that every child should have knowledge of this city and of the many great individuals and inventions that have had a positive effect across the world.”
Mr Rainbow said the idea for the film was prompted by his frustration that all many people seemed to know about Birmingham was the oft-repeated cliché about it having more canals than Venice and he felt there was a bigger story to tell.
He said: “As well as Alexander Parkes, who invented celluloid and plastic, radar was invented here, the Spitfire was made here, as was the original Mini.
“In addition the Football League started here, lawn tennis was invented here and Cadbury was founded here.
“Before that, the Industrial Revolution started here in Birmingham with James Watt and Matthew Boulton - probably one the most influential things to come out of any city at any time.
“Birmingham was a city of enlightenment, it was the epicentre of enlightenment at that time.”
And in a bid to help correct misinformed opinions about the city Mr Rainbow said he had even sent a copy to the infamous Steve Emerson.
“We’ve sent a copy of the film to Steve Emerson, the guy Fox News interviewed who said Birmingham was a no go area,” he added. “After all, the film was made for educational purposes.”
* Anyone wishing to find out more about the film or how to obtain a copy should email Mr Kesseler at email@example.com.