Film Festival

A Mom’s Top Picks for Children’s Film Fest Seattle

Popcorn, pancakes and all kinds of PG fun.

By Hilary Meyerson January 27, 2011

Garri Bardin’s The Ugly Duckling is a must-see at this year’s Children’s Film Festival Seattle.

Editor’s note: The annual Children’s Film Fest at Northwest Film Forum, opening tomorrow, is a family-friendly film bonanza: 10 days, 100 films. It makes our heads spin. So I asked one of our resident moms, Hilary, to help trim the list and weigh in with her top picks.

I’d recommend the opening night party with Caspar Babypants, tonight Friday night at 7. I saw lead singer Chris Ballew back when he was leading the Presidents of the United States of America, and left the show with a bruise to the forehead from a wayward stage-diving combat boot. It might be nice to come full circle and bring my kids (they can wear PJs and bring stuffed animals) to dance in the aisles. Bruises seem unlikely. They’ll also be showing a sneak peek of animated films for the festival. Here are some other suggestions of what else to catch:

7 Days in Slow Motion
Jan 30 at 7pm, Feb 6 at 11:30am.
This is a movie for any kid who’s ever had a parent nag him about schoolwork. Of course, this never happens in my house, so my 11-year-old son won’t relate to Ravi, the main character whose mother wants him to focus on his academics while he’s more interested in his extracurricular passion: filmmaking. Ravi and his friends find an American tourist’s video camera, and have seven days to return it; coincidentally, exams are seven days away. The kids endeavor to shoot a mini-Bollywood extravaganza in the week while dealing with family and school. Hijinx ensue but some intense scenes and cultural references lift it above a kiddie movie. This one is probably best for preteens and up. In English and Hindi with English subtitles.

Azemichi Road
Jan 31 at 7pm, Feb 5 at 1pm.
This sounds like a great film to take my 8-year-old daughter to. It follows Yuki, a shy hearing-impaired girl who dreams of joining a local dance team. No small order for a girl who can’t hear the music. Bullies, acceptance, self-expression, the transcendent power of kindness are all themes in this film. Any film that explores the social dynamics of adolescent girls in a thoughtful way is a must-see on my list. Azemichi Road also gets bonus points for stunning cinematography of Japan. Japanese with English subtitles.

The Ugly Duckling
Jan 29 and Feb 6 at 1; Feb 4 at 7.
My kids have long been fans of the Wallace and Gromit stop-motion animation oeuvre, so I’d take them to this comical and touching retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale. The trailer shows the artistry of acclaimed Russian animator Garri Bardin, whose barnyard birds and other animals are rendered in gorgeous detail. Watching ducks marching to the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballets would be worth the price of admission. Russian, with English subtitles.

Jan 29 at 10:30am and 11am (pancake breakfast attendees only), Jan 31 at 10am, Feb 5 at 11am.
There’s no better way to get kids into international filmmaking than by treating them to this collection of cartoon shorts: eight fast-paced adventures. The films have a total running time of just 76 minutes, during which the kids can feast their eyes on fare from Germany, Canada, Latvia, the UK and the US. Better yet, go to the Jan 29 Pancake Breakfast and enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes and bacon before the screening.

Children’s Film Festival Seattle runs Jan 28-Feb 6 at Northwest Film Forum.

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