Media, literature and culture are all useful subjects for children to learn in order to increase their global awareness and heighten their ability to see things from different perspectives. Introducing children to films from all over the world is one way to heighten their interest in these subjects. For those who live in or near NYC, the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) is a great way to become acquainted with movies from across the globe that are appropriate for children and adults alike.
The movies presented at the New York International Children’s Film Festival range from shorts to full length features. For the 2013 festival there are 15 full-length films from all over the world. The full-length feature film list includes:
• “Ernest & Celestine,” a film about the unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear. From France with subtitles. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “Approved for Adoption” tells the story of a Korean boy adopted by Europeans and his subsequent journey to find a sense of self between the culture he was born into and the one he was adopted into. From Belgium with subtitles. Ages 11 to Adult.
• “The Day of the Crows” is a magical story set in an enchanted forest and tells the tale of a brave boy who seeks to get help for his injured father by venturing out into civilization. From Canada with subtitles (the original film is in French). Ages 7 to Adult.
• “From Up On Poppy Hill” is set in Japan in 1963 and chronicles the budding relationship between two teenagers during a time when everything in Japan was changing. From Japan but in English. Ages 9 to Adult.
• “Hey Krishna” is a colorful, musical, character-driven film based on the Hindu deity Krishna. From India but in English. Ages 8 to Adult.
• “KauwBoy” tells the story of a 10-year-old boy with an absent mother and an emotionally cold father finding solace in caring for a baby crow. From the Netherlands and subtitled. Ages 10 to Adult.
• “Kirikou and the Men and the Women” is centered on the adventures of a young boy who must save his African village from threats of both supernatural and human origins. From France with subtitles. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “Meet the Small Potatoes” is a film that follows cartoon potatoes that are famous for their singing and must learn to deal with the costs of fame. From the United States. All ages.
• “The Painting” tells the story of characters in artwork and the societies that the paintings create that mirror the social classes found in real life. From France but in English. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “Pinocchio” is a modern day retelling of the fairy tale that has been popular for centuries. This colorful and artistic creation is a delight. From Italy but in English. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “Strong” is the story of a female bodybuilder named Cheryl Haworth and how she perceives herself as being beautiful despite not fitting the ideal standards for feminine attractiveness. From the United States. Ages 9 to Adult.
• “Welcome to the Space Show” tells the story of two cousins who are on summer vacation in the country when they come across an injured dog. Yet it soon becomes clear that the dog is actually an alien botanist who soon brings the kids back to his home planet on the dark side of the moon where many fantastic sites and creatures await. This colorful and visually outlandish film includes many plot twists that keep viewer’s interest. It is a well thought out and uniquely animated Science Fiction offering for both adults and children. From Japan but in English. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “Wolf Children” is about a single mother who struggles to raise her two werewolf children away from society. From Japan and subtitled. Ages 9 to Adult.
• “Zarafa” is about an orphaned African boy and a young giraffe who become friends. When the giraffe is given to the King of France as a gift it is clear that the animal is unhappy away from home. The boy subsequently decides to bring his friend back to Africa despite the possible perils facing them on the way. From France and subtitled. Ages 7 to Adult.
• “The Zigzag Kid” is a story about the son of a police inspector that goes on his own crime-solving adventure. From Belgium with subtitles. Ages 8 to Adult.
Aside from these films, there are dozens of short films for all ages, including those for children as young as 3 years old. Anyone who is interested can find a complete list and description of each short film available on the website. The movies that encompass the International Children’s Film Festival are being played in eight different theaters until March 24th, 2013. Full directions and show time information can be found at: http://www.gkids.com/
Additionally, the NYICFF provides workshop films, filmmaking camps, and the opportunity to become a member. For anyone who is interested in making films or being further associated with the NYICFF detailed information can be seen on the official website in the link above.
Even if you are unable to attend the actual film festival in theaters most of the movies are accessible online or via Netflix and are certainly worth watching. By getting children interested in stories from around the world they learn to appreciate other people and cultures, see situations from varying perspectives, and increase their creativity to become more well-rounded and accepting individuals. Movies that can achieve these outcomes are certainly curriculum worthy and great fuel for intelligent discussions.