Psychiatry has had a significant influence on both Hollywood and world cinema. In turn, psychiatrists' fascination with psychiatric themes in films has inspired scores of books and bibliographies about films and psychiatry. Advances in medical education have led to the development of core-competency-based curricula for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Learning objectives underpin such competencies. However, teaching competencies in the workplace is hampered by practical and ethical issues, especially in the case of psychiatric patients. Medical educationalists have found films to be a useful teaching tool with their larger-than-life vivid portrayals. In this article we demonstrate, with examples, the use of films and discrete film clips to achieve specific learning objectives that can be incorporated easily into most undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes in psychiatry.