Truly moving pictures

The Children's International Film Festival should inspire youngsters to exchange the computer monitor and LCD for silver screen

Eleanors Secret animated film (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eleanors Secret animated film
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Have you overdosed on the mediocre-to-horrifically bad Hollywood fare that passes for children’s entertainment in the summer? Do you wish that your children would grow up with an inkling that the Disney Channel and Sponge Bob don’t represent the pinnacle of cinematic achievement? Do you feel as if all your kids’ friends are off having a blast in New York, Paris or Fiji? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’ll be relieved to hear that the Jerusalem Cinematheque is holding the fourth annual Children’s International Film Festival this summer, from August 22-25.
There will be films from abroad, as well as home-grown movies that your kids probably wouldn’t see elsewhere.
Dominique Monfery’s Eleanor’s Secret is an animated French film that tells the story of Nat, a seven-year-old who still doesn’t know how to read. When he inherits his aunt’s library, he finds that the characters step out of the books to draw him into their world.
From The Netherlands comes Fuschia, the Mini-Witch, the story of a girl who hatches from an egg and goes to witch school. The Great Bear is a Danish film about a boy who is disappointed when his sister accompanies him on a camping expedition with his grandfather. But when his sister is abducted by the titular bear, he springs into action.
Rafiki, a Norwegian film, tells the story of two children who take the night train to Oslo to search for their missing sibling and discover a world of magic and terror.
Superbrother is a Danish film about a boy whose older autistic older brother is obsessed with outer space. And from South Africa comes The White Lion, a live-action film about a lion cub who is cast out of his pride and is forced to make his way alone in the world.
Moshe Alpert’s Land of Genesis is a beautiful nature film that focuses on wild animals in Israel. It will be followed by a guided tour of the Jerusalem Bird Observatory.
For many parents, the Israeli Educational Television Tribute will be a trip down memory lane, although for children this 75- minute compilation will be all new.
Some of these clips are currently on YouTube, and their gentle, often slapstick humor has proven to be a hit with some of the kids I know.
A series of workshops is designed to develop kids’ interest in the art and craft of moviemaking. Most of the workshops require advance registration.
While children are usually mesmerized by animated films, few realize how these films are created. A three-part workshop given by teachers at the Animetzia Studio covers the history of animation, teaches pixilation technique and creates films, and shows children how to make stopmotion animated films with different materials. All the movies made in the workshops will be screened on the closing night and on the Internet.
Actress and teacher Neta Schahar will instruct young drama queens and kings in dramatic art.
There will also be a make-up workshop, a dubbing workshop and a comic-drawing workshop by Michel Kichka.
For adults, there will be an interesting selection of movies about childhood. These four modern classics will be suitable for teens as well. Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth was heralded for its emotional impact and the special effects it uses to portray the inner world of a girl introduced into the treacherous household of one of Franco’s generals in 1944 Spain.
Bille August’s Pelle the Conqueror, starring Max von Sydow, looks at the lives of indentured servants from Sweden in 19th-century Denmark. Niki Caro’s Whale Rider features Keisha Castle-Hughes (the youngest performer to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar) in a riveting story about a New Zealand girl who feels she was born to lead her tribe. And Israel’s own Ari Folman (who went on to direct Waltz with Bashir) and Ori Sivan collaborated on the dark and satirical Saint Clara, about a girl (Lucy Dubinchek) who uses her powers of clairvoyance in surprising ways while coping with life in a dystopian development town.
The opening and closing attractions are more mainstream American films. On opening night, you can see Kevin James in Zookeeper, about a zoo filled with talking animals. And Jim Carrey stars in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the closing-night film, which is a live-action version of the beloved classic novel.
Surely there are a few films on this list that will entice your kids off the couch and into the Jerusalem Cinematheque.