Children’s film festival returns
Foreign language films shouldn’t just be for adults.
This is a key idea behind the Screenies Children’s International Film Festival Aotearoa, taking place in Auckland later in the month. Now in its second year, it showcases short and feature length films aimed at children aged 3 to 15.
Screenies director and founder Janette Howe says the festival is about showcasing diverse quality films that kids wouldn’t otherwise see.
‘‘They don’t come through commercial channels so it’s basically the films that kids around the world see in film festivals around the world.’’
A mother-of-two, Howe says children’s screen content in New Zealand doesn’t show a lot of variety.
‘‘It’s for kids and their parents who want things outside of the mainstream, and they’re more challenging [films] that can also be fun and exciting. But it’s certainly, I guess, more for those people who are interested in a richer media experience and a more diverse one.’’
For instance German film Hordur expresses themes of bullying while following a Muslim refugee girl. Swiss film The Little Mountain Boy follows a child who has a special gift for understanding animals. ’’It’s about her relationship with an Icelandic pony so it’s certainly not something you would see every day and it’s really about themes of resilience and growing up in a dif- ferent culture.’’
This is about opening up new worlds for children, Howe says.
‘‘They’re not the Pixar films or those kinds of worlds that are ‘the universal child’ ... these are more specific worlds our kids don’t get a chance to see unless they travel.
‘‘They’re also kids that are relatable, it’s about seeking independence or growing up and facing challenges like bullying or finding friendships.’’
Howe doesn’t think the foreign aspect will put kids off - she’s found children are generally able to follow subtitles in the same way an adult would.
‘‘Certainly there’s a different sensibility that you get with these kinds of films….I think it is that idea that it’s culturally specific rather than this generic world where there’s a happily-ever-after and we kind of know the story arc. It’s a little bit more challenging than that.’’
Screenies takes place at TAPAC in Western Springs from September 22 to 25.