The Top 15 International Film Schools of 2020

6:03 AM 8/24/2020

by Mia Galuppo and Kirsten Chuba

From a Quarantine Stories film competition to on-set pod teams, global institutions have quickly adapted to the COVID-19 crisis.

A production studio at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
Courtesy of Subject

A production studio at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

  • Australian Film Television and Radio School

    This Sydney-based school has turned out an array of Oscar winners — writer-director Jane Campion (The Piano), David White (sound editing for Mad Max: Fury Road) and Margaret Sixel (editing Mad Max: Fury Road). As of August, most student activity had returned to campus, but the university was assessing health and safety conditions on a weekly basis in tandem with the Australian government.

  • Beijing Film Academy

    The incoming 2020 students at the Beijing Film Academy, China’s most elite moviemaking institution, were required to submit to online admissions interviews this spring — including virtual auditions for coveted spots in the acting department — because of the pandemic. But thanks to China’s highly effective domestic containment of the virus, classes will be held in person this fall.

  • Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica

    All classes have shifted online at Mexico’s premiere film school, founded in 1975. As part of its virtual curriculum, the school is uploading films on the Mexican Film Institute’s streaming platform as well as its own social media channels, with many new titles accessible for free.

  • Centro Sperimentale Di Cinematográfica

    Italy's National School of Cinema — offering courses across all film disciplines for anyone fluent in Italian — used the COVID-19 lockdown to start a program of distance learning for all its courses, which it claims has enhanced the level of teacher-pupil interaction.

  • ECAM

    While 2020 might not have been the greatest year for the Madrid school to celebrate its 25th anniversary, it did launch three master’s degree programs (executive production, postproduction coordination and TV script writing). During the coronavirus crisis, ECAM shifted its theoretical classes online and, once the lockdown was lifted, adapted its facilities so students could complete their shoots and practical exercises in safety.

  • Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film

    Germany has not yet reopened its universities for regular classes, but the country’s No. 1 film school — whose alumni include the likes of Wim Wenders, Roland Emmerich and Dark director Baran bo Odar — has moved its courses online and is offering a combination of digital and in-person instruction.

  • La Fémis

    The French state film school was forced to close its Paris doors in early March during the COVID-19 lockdown. But its 11 departments adapted their training, with numerous online talks from various cinematographers, sound engineers and editors, alongside top directors such as Michael Haneke and Damien Chazelle.

  • Lodz Film School

    Poland has weathered the COVID-19 crisis better than most and has begun reopening public institutions, including schools and universities, though the government has said it will shut things down again if infections spike.

  • London Film School

    The central London school this year saw its alumni land eight BAFTA TV Craft Award nominations (including for The End of the F***ing World showrunner Jonathan Entwistle). Adjusting to the lockdown, it moved its 66 staff off site and shifted to remote learning, brought its M.A. Filmmaking curriculum forward to avoid disruption and, ahead of students’ return to class, refitted its premises to support social distancing.

  • National Film and Television School

    The U.K.’s most famous film and TV college — whose alumni range from Oscar-winning industry veterans such as Roger Deakins to emerging stars like 1917 scribe Krysty Wilson-Cairns — expanded its offerings in 2020 with the addition of both casting and postproduction supervision courses. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the school offered almost daily Zoom master classes with the likes of Judd Apatow, Elisabeth Moss, Steve McQueen and David Fincher.

  • National Film School of Denmark

    One of the first countries to emerge from lockdown, Denmark has returned to near normality, and classes at its acclaimed national film school —whose alumni include Susanne Bier, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg — are going ahead under new regulations for hygienic conditions. The university is notoriously selective. Besides fluency in Danish, all applicants must pass an entrance test including practical exercises and interviews before being admitted.

  • RTA School of Media at Ryerson University

    Amid the pandemic, Toronto’s Ryerson has embraced a hybrid online and in-person format, with social distancing and pod teams during location shoots.

  • SAE Institute

    Swiss universities have returned to semi-normality with reduced class sizes, social distancing and new hygiene regulations in place. Zurich’s SAE — part of a network of institutes that spans 26 countries — will again offer instruction in the tech side of filmmaking, with 18-month and two-year bachelor’s programs.

  • Sam Spiegel Film and Television School

    The Jerusalem school briefly went online-only during the first wave of COVID-19 in March and April, but new director Dana Blankstein-Cohen was able to restart classes and finish the semester as normal. The school even turned lockdown to its advantage with a Quarantine Stories competition that saw winners receive grants to turn their shut-in tales into short films.

  • Vancouver Film School

    Since the pandemic, VFS industry programs have gone online. Students working remotely will return to in-person courses as soon as government safety guidelines permit it. During the lockdown, VFS has delivered equipment to student homes to allow remote production.

    This story first appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.