Chil­dren’s film fes­ti­val re­turns

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

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.

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