Another good reason to be in Chicago over the next two weeks, especially if your children are true film buffs, is the Chicago International Children's Film Festival that will be running from October 24th to November 3rd. This is the 19th year of the festival, which has become one of the very best places in the country, indeed, the world, to gain a real sense of the kinds of films that are being produced for children each year.
This year, the Festival will be screening over 200 films -- from animated short films to feature-length live action movies -- by some 100 filmmakers from dozens of nations. It's one of the few places where you can see current films from the Phillipines and Australia, Africa and Eastern Europe, Central and South America and the USA. Few of these films will ever make it to the multiplex let alone onto television or video, or even to the art movie houses. Children's films in this country are still treated as the poor stepchildren of so-called "grown up" movies. Yet they are very often the labors of love of filmmakers who are deeply concerned with the kinds of visual fare that we provide for our children to watch. And independent and international children's films often grapple with some of the most pressing concerns and issues of growing up, unlike many of the kidsploitation movies that are produced in this country and that fill the screens at the malls. The Festival itself is dedicated to " fostering racial tolerance and bridging gaps between cultures." These are important, indeed vital aspirations.
One of the truly unique things about the Chicago festival is that juries of children and adults independently choose the festival's selections from the six hundred plus films that are submitted for screening each year. And these juries select the prize-winners that will be announced on November 3rd, the last day of the festival. As a sign of the high level of regard with which the Festival is held, the winners of the short film category at the festival "may automatically qualify to enter the Short Film Category at the Academy Awards." It's "the only children's film festival in the world to be recognized as an Academy qualifying festival." Special filmmaking workshops for young people are also held during the festival, and there are opportunities to meet stars and directors. And if you really love movies, this is a chance to take the Festival theme at its word and "Get into It."
You can find out more about the Festival on their website at www.cicff.org.
Copyright 2002 © John Cech
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