Summer projections

Parents and kids can beat the heat and catch a variety of movies and workshops offered during the International Film Festival for Children and Youth at the Cinematheque.

Yuki and Nina 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yuki and Nina 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘I fell in love with the whole idea of a film festival for kids and young teens when I was taking my movie around the world,” says Omri Levy, the director of the 3rd International Film Festival for Children and Youth at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, which runs from August 15-19.
Levy, who works as the academic director at the Ma’aleh Film School in Jerusalem, directed the film Miss Entebbe in 2003. He accompanied this award-winning film, which is about a group of children reacting to ˆa terror attack, to many international festivals and returned convinced that there was a place for a festival of high-quality films for children in Israel.
Particularly impressed by the Generation Section at the Berlin International Film Festival, where Miss Entebbe won a Special Mention, Levy returned to the festival this year in search of films for this summer’s Jerusalem festival.
“About 50 percent of the films in our festival, I found at the Berlin festival,” he says. These films are not only from Germany but also from all over the world, since the festival here features movies from New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France and the United States, as well as Israel. There will be a few bigbudget Hollywood films, such as Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and Nanny McPhee 2, but Levy is most excited about the films children won’t be able to see elsewhere.
“Ninety-five percent of the commercial films out there are American. But the films in the festival are from all over the world,” says Levy “My belief is that kids are very intelligent,” says the father of four. “I realized as I was looking for films that I wasn’t looking for kid’s films but for excellent movies that are suitable for kids.”
There are programs for children of all ages, but Levy emphasizes that all the films for younger children are dubbed in Hebrew.
Levy is certain that audiences will enjoy Yuki and Nina, a French film directed by Hippolyte Giradot and Nobuhiro Suwa, about a Japanese girl who moves to France and befriends a French girl, then has to return to Japan when her parents separate.
Another film Levy recommends is Boy, a film from New Zealand about a boy who has grown up without his father and conjures up all kinds of fantasies about him.
The Magic Tree is a film based on the award-winning Polish children’s television series. Levy notes that the festival has shown episodes from the series in the past, which were popular with kids here.
There are also three short programs of films for children three and up, seven and up, and 12 and over.
All film festivals feature competitions, and this one is no exception. There are two competitions for short films. One is for films by student filmmakers intended for children, which will be judged by a jury of seven children from the Jerusalem area, ages six to 13. This competition will award the winning directors prizes totaling NIS 13,000. “The jury will be varied, with boys and girls, religious kids and secular,” explains Levy.
The other competition is for films made by Jerusalem high school students. The winners will receive prizes including filmmaking equipment, a gift certificate to the Third Ear DVD store and a year’s pass for the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
A number of workshops will be held and, like the films in the festival, they will be geared to different age groups. Some will continue during the year as well.
Children seven and up should be riveted by a workshop led by Eitan Rodik, a movie special effects expert and stuntman. Participants will watch film clips, learn how the effects are done, and then recreate some of them.
Levy has also programmed a classic film, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus. After the screening, comedian Guri Alfi will lead a discussion on what audiences find funny in movies. The event is sponsored by the editors of Einayim magazine. Another one of the workshops will be on the art of dubbing, which should be of interest to young viewers, since most of the films and cartoons they see are dubbed. Actress Anat Nin, who does much of the dubbing in Israel (she is the voice of the Israeli Marge Simpson), will lead the workshop, in which kids and their parents will have a chance to dub films themselves.
“We had a lot of sell-outs in previous years,” says Levy, emphasizing that it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance. Most of the films cost NIS 39, and many feature a child-and-parent combination special for NIS 70.
Some of the short programs and competitions are NIS 25, while a few of the workshops cost between NIS 40- 50.
While some parents end up taking their children to work at the end of the summer, what does the director of a film festival do? “The two older children will be at the festival,” says Levy, adding that he frequently gets advice from his children. “Sometimes they tell me that things I think are interesting are boring. And when I see it with an audience, it turns out they’re right. The festival is their summer camp.”
For more information, visit the festival Web site at