|Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang (2014)|
Sundance has a new category this year known as Sundance Kids, a program headed up by the Utah Film Center’s Pat Hubley. While it’s only including two kid-friendly films this year, namely Ernest and Celestine and Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang, it’s a promising start to making the annual event (which is one of the biggest film festivals in the world) something for everyone. For more information including showtimes read Matthew Brown’s piece for the Deseret News, “Sundance Film Festival introduces children to world of independent and foreign cinema.”
“While many films aimed at an adult audience would not be appropriate for children, a successful children's film engages both young and old.”
“Foreign children's films are also effective at exposing younger American audiences to different cultures, experiences and languages.”
It’s quite an accomplishment when something known as “kiddie fare” can engage the adult that is possibly stuck watching it with them. The foreign element is the most important aspect to me. How I wished I had been shown pieces of the Studio Ghibli portfolio when I was a kid! Can’t blame my parents, they didn’t know about it anymore than I did. It’s something I began rectifying and implementing in my uncleship. Each time I visit my neices and nephew I try to put on My Neighbor Totoro or something of the sort. At least as a tween I was introduced to Pokémon and began getting my international fix (also planting seeds for early onset Japanophilia), but it really wasn’t until I saw Zhang Yimou’s Hero in theaters 12 years ago - probably the first time I had to read subtitles in the theater - that my love for this silly thing we call “foreign film” began.
To hear Hubley’s experience at the Toronto International Film Festival (where they have had a program called TIFF Kids for some years) where children were reading or having read to them subtitles is a remarkable thing. On the one hand, a theater with “5- to 8-year-olds” sounds like my worst nightmare, on the other if it means teaching/showing our posterity the potential of world cinema while they are still but warm clay I cannot complain.
(Curator’s Note: I’ve already watched some Pokémon and Ghibli this year, so there’s two examples of children’s films (both un-coincidentally animated) that still can appeal to adults. That said, the Ghibli films were Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky, kicking off a brief Animation For Adults series put on by the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater, so maybe not the best example.)
|Ernest & Celestine (2013)|
What do you think about Sundance, or any film festival for that matter, catering certain films or programs for children? Any experiences with early samplings of the indie or foreign in your own lives? As always, the conversation doesn’t start unless you comment below.
The Sundance Film Festival begins next Thursday, January 16th. I will not be attending this year but check out Trent's coverage/experience of last year's in this episode of The Film Tome Podcast.
Related Posts:“Wrecked: The Current State of Films For Your Children”