Fresh from The London Children’s Film Festival Grand Animation tour which brought classroom creativity to over 1000 London primary school children, the Festival bursts onto the screens and foyer spaces of London’s cinemas from 18 November. The London Children’s Film Festival returns for its 2nd year, for nine days to 16 venues across London with a programme of Galas, Special Previews, UK Premieres and Creative Workshops that bring to life children’s stories from 19 countries! Bursting at the seams with new feature films and documentaries, telling contemporary stories from all over the world, archive gems just waiting to be rediscovered plus shorts made by young people across London, the LCFF comes complete with special guests, workshops and activities for all the family. A total of 39 features and 30 shorts in 14 languages (including two silent!) screen at The London Children’s Film Festival presented by the Barbican and the Independent Cinema Office in partnership with Film London.
Film is a passport to the rest of the world, a way to appreciate what others experience. The need to show films that tells stories about young people from other cultures is undeniable in a city that is home to 1.44 million children who speak around 300 languages! The London Children’s Film Festival programme has stories from Iran to India, France to Finland, Canada to Korea and more. Alongside this incredibly exciting programme of world cinema, is an equally enticing programme of workshops and activities which offer children and young people the chance to get stuck in and dance, sing, dress-up and best of all make films! And, as is right and proper, children and young people are actively involved in shaping this Festival, through the First Light Young Juries and Consultants who choose the Official Selection, decide on their favourites, and hand out the Awards.
The London Children’s Film Festival takes place at 16 cinemas across the capital. Participating venues are: Barbican Cinema, Broadway Theatre Catford, Ciné Lumière, Cineworlds Feltham, Shaftesbury Avenue, Wandsworth, Wood Green, David Lean Cinema at Croydon Clocktower, Genesis Cinema, Whitechapel, Greenwich Picturehouse, ICA Cinema, Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, Rio Cinema, Dalston, Ritzy Cinema, Brixton and Tricycle Cinema, Kilburn.
THE GALAS, WORKSHOPS AND SPECIAL EVENTS:
Mohini Sule, Workshops and Activities Patron, ‘I’m so excited to be involved in the festival again. Films feed the imagination and the workshops and activities will give children the chance to really get stuck in and discover what the world of film and film-making is all about. It’s going to be great fun!’
From the opening to closing galas, and plenty in-between, the LCFF has opportunities galore to get creative with themed workshops and activities. Here are the highlights:
Opening and Closing Galas:
The London Children’s Film Festival opening gala film at the Barbican is Michel Ocelot’s stunning Azur and Asmar (France 2006, 100mins, in French with subtitles), which is preceded at 10.00am on Saturday 18 November with an Azur and Asmar Puppet Workshop. Michel Ocelot has enchanted audiences with his previous Kirikou titles (showing in the festival as part of an Ocelot retrospective) and this latest ravishing Arabian nights style animation is equally delightful. Azur and Asmar is about two boys who were nursed by the same woman and grew up like brothers – Azur, the blonde, blue-eyed son of a nobleman and Asmar, the dark-skinned, dark-eyed child of the nurse. Years later, after fate has cruelly separated them, the brothers each embark on a quest which takes them to magical lands brimming with danger, to find the legendary Fairy who featured in their childhood bedtime stories. Suitable for age 7 plus.
On Sunday 26 November at 2.00pm at the Barbican, The London Children’s Film Festival closes with a chance to see a gloriously restored classic on the big screen plus two themed workshops for the young at heart! The Festival is delighted to announce that The Wizard of Oz (USA 1939, dir Victor Fleming, 98mins) – which must be the most influential, magical, scary and joyous musicals of all time – is the closing gala film. From 10.00am that day, children can choose to learn the song and dance routines with professional musicians and dancers at the Wizard of Oz Song and Dance Workshop, or transform themselves into an Oz character at the Wizard of Oz Costume and Make-up Workshop. Suitable for age 6 plus.
And in between…
Aardman fans stand to attention! 30 years ago Aardman Animation came to life and to celebrate the LCFF is showing a Special Preview Screening of the new animation Flushed Away (UK/US 2006, dir Sam Fell), which takes us down the drain with one very posh rat! Director Sam Fell and Producer Peter Lord will introduce their hilarious tale about a pampered upper class rat that gets flushed down the loo in his penthouse apartment. Flushed Away will be screened with clips from classic Aardman featuring everyone’s favourite, Wallace and Gromit. Suitable for age 5 plus.
Anyone out there not like The Jungle Book? And, anyone out there who can’t, at the very least, hum The Bare Necessities…? The LCFF presents Sing-A-Long with The Jungle Book (USA 1967, 78 mins) at the Phoenix East Finchley and the Barbican. There are opportunities to join in at both venues with Jungle Book Activities Workshop at the Phoenix, and at the Barbican children can spend a day getting into character at the Jungle Costume, Dance and Singing Workshop followed by Lunchtime in the Jungle in the Barbican’s exotic and gloriously green Conservatory Terrace Festival Café. Suitable for age 5 plus.
Calling all ballet dancers! The LCFF has created a very special opportunity for budding ballerinas to practise their pliés and join in the Ballet Workshop with the Royal Ballet, before watching Nils Tavernier’s Aurore (France 2006, 96mins, French with subtitles), an enchanting fairy story about a young girl’s determination to follow her dreams. Suitable for age 7 plus.
Mad Hatters and Jam Tarts, anyone? Out of the archives comes Alice In Wonderland (Alice au pays des merveilles) (UK/France 1951, dir. Dallas Bower, 83 min), this little-seen adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story – beginning with a glimpse of the real girl who inspired Carroll. Live action and puppet animation combine to portray the well-loved wonderland, where life gets ‘curioser and curioser’! Before the screening the audience can join in with a Mad Hatter’s Workshop and afterwards the Festival Café is throwing a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party complete with jam tarts. Suitable for age 7 plus.
The dark side of burger and fries…the festival is delighted to include a preview screening of Fast Food Nation (USA/UK 2006,114 mins) Richard Linklater’s star-studded dramatisation of the best-selling book which contains some shocking content spiked with humour and eye-opening scenes of the reality of the junk food industry.
As well as feature film titles, the LCFF is committed to encouraging young people to embrace documentary film. The Festival is showing five documentary features for young people age 9 plus including a triple-bill programme co-presented by DocHouse including Deported (Sweden 2005, dirs Katarina Johansson, Ulrika Widmark, 45mins) about 13-year-old Qendresa and her family who return to Bosnia after four year’s exile in Sweden; award-winning Martyr Street (Canada/Israel 2006, dir Shelly Saywell, 90mins) is set in Hebron, the most hazardous and factious areas of the West Bank where Jewish settlers live as a minority in the heart of the city in the occupied territories. The film reveals how neighbouring children never meet and how they are condition to hate; and The Grand Bazaar (O Grande Bazaar) (Mozambique 2005, dir Licínio Azevedo, 56 mins) about 12-year-old Paito’s tenacity, creativity and ingenuity when his money is stolen by young robbers.
The LCFF and Animation Workshops go hand-in-hand, and there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in this year’s programme from Michel Ocelot to Moomins and more. The LCFF plays tribute to Michel Ocelot with screenings of four of his films (including the opening film): the original Kirikou and the Sorceress (France 1998, 74mins); the follow-up Kirikou and the Wild Beasts (France 2005, 75mins); plus Ocelot’s delightful shadow-puppet animation Princes and Princesses (France 2000, 70mins), all supported by workshops: Cut Out Animation, Light Box Animation, Character Design and Claymation. Suitable for age 5 plus. An Animate Yourself! Workshop follows the screening of Tainá 2:A New Amazon Adventure (Brazil 2006, dir Mauro Lima, 76mins) an exciting adventure story about friendship and bravery featuring13-year-old Tainá who lives in the rainforest. Suitable for age 7 plus. The Moomins Animation Workshop follows a rare screening of the original 1980s puppet animation complilation The Moomins (Finland/Poland 1980, 60 mins) which was adapted from Tove Jansson’s popular and charming children’s stories and drawings. This compilation, which has never been seen before in the UK, is brought here by the Northern Lights Film Festival in collaboration with The London Children’s Film Festival. Suitable for age 2 plus.
The Short & Sweet programme, programmed for the LCFF by the Showcomotion Young People’s Film Festival, Sheffield, is also suitable for pre-school children, and comprises a selection of magical animation stories from around the world. Short & Sweet will be followed by a FREE drop-in Finger Puppet Activity. Suitable for age 2 plus.
Plenty more films in the festival have FREE drop-in creative activities directly related to screenings, including: The Robber Hotzenplotz (Germany 2005, dir Gernot Roll, 94mins) adapted from a well-know German children’s story is an hilarious film about two boys who set off into the woods after a mean robber (age 7 plus); Winky’s Horse (Netherlands 2005, dir Mischa Kamp, 95mins) about how a little girl recently emigrated from China builds a new life; Pluk and His Tow Truck (Netherlands 2004, dir Ben Sambogaart, Pieter von Rijn, 90mins) based on the popular story by Annie M. G. Schmidt, in which the boy Pluk finds a solution to rescue the park and the animals that live there (age 4 plus); and The Koala Brothers Outback Christmas (UK 2006, dir Tobias Fouracre, 46mins) narrated by ‘Jono’ Coleman, the Koala Brothers are popular characters on the CBeebies BBC children’s channel (age 2 plus).
The workshop programme continues throughout the LCFF across all 16 venues: bring an inanimate object to life at the Robot Making Workshop which follows the screening of Hinokio (Japan 2005, dir Takahiko Akiyama, 111mins, Japanese with subtitles) about a robot takes the place of a house-bound school boy (age 7 plus); perfect the trick of comic timing at a Slapstick Workshop inspired by the screening of Charlie Chaplin’s classic silent The Kid (USA 1921, 68 mins) (age 7 plus); learn how to fall over without hurting yourself at a Stunts Workshop following the screening of Little Heroes (Israel 2006, dir Giborium Ktanim) about Erez and Alicia who set off on a dangerous rescue mission. Learn the art of Book Illustration following the screening of Children of the Moon (Germany 2006, dir Manuela Stacke, 87mins) about 12 year old Lisa who takes an imaginary space trip with her little brother Paul, who’s sick and stuck at home (age 9 plus). And finally, a Film Music Workshop follows the screening of an early Indian silent film The Birth of a Sun Krishna (India,1918, dir D.G. Phalke, 6 min) where children will be able to compose their own music to this special screening of a short made by one of the founding fathers of Indian cinema, who merged classic stories with new filming techniques to give magical movement to Indian mythology (age 7 plus).
Alongside all this, the Festival has also teamed up with film-making groups across London to offer Be A Movie Maker Filmmaking Workshops for 12-16 year olds. The Filmmaking Workshop, run by the Mouth That Roars filmmaking group, invites young people to make a film inspired by the Festival; at the Animate Yourself Workshop participants can become an animated character and star in their own film; and learn how to shoot and edit a short film in the Make a Film in a Day Workshop, run by Film Fantastic.
THE OFFICIAL SELECTION:
Mark Kermode, First Light Young Juries and Consultants Patron, ‘This provides a great opportunity for young people to hone their critical skills, broaden their knowledge of world cinema, and play an active part in an exciting festival’.
Building on the success of last year, First Light and the The London Children’s Film Festival team up again, extending the First Light Young Juries initiative to engage more young people in film. Last year’s Jurors return for 2006 as Young Consultants, ensuring the Festival continues to put children first every step of the way. During September the Young Consultants picked their best bits from the Festival and have now delivered their Official Selection of 14 films from 12 different countries, in 11 different languages.
To help people decide what to come and see from the extensive programme, the Young Jurors review the Official Selection for the festival website and use the experience to judge the winners of the First Light Young Jury Film Prizes for Best Feature for 7 – 11s and 12 – 14s, and announce them at the Closing Gala. The First-Light Jurors will watch the Official Selection titles during the half-term holiday in October and be mentored by the Festival Education team and Mark Kermode, the First Light Young Juries and Consultants Patron. Last year’s jurors selected two foreign language films, the surreal Pelican Man (Finland 2004, Dir. Liisa Helminen, 90 min) and the powerful Innocent Voices (Mexico 2004, Dir. Luis Mandoki 110 min), as winners.
Official Selection 2006:
7-11 year olds
Michel Ocelot’s most recent film Azur and Asmar (France 2006, 100min) has proved a hit with all the Consultants and makes it into the Official Selection for both age groups. This startling animation is the only one in the selection for 7 to 11-year-olds, but is joined by two fascinating films that combine animated elements with live-action. Hinokio (Dir. Takahiko Akiyama 111 min), brings the robot namesake of the film alive, using computer generated imagery. This fuels the film’s theme of fantasy versus reality to an engaging effect as the robot takes the place of a young boy at school. Quite different special effects are used to bring the fantasy to life in Mee Shee: The Water Giant (UK/Canada 2005 Dir. John Henderson 99 min) as Jim Hensen’s Creature Workshop is called upon to create the ‘mythical’ creature that comes to life to help a small boy save a lake.
Tales of triumph come in from all corners of the world as the Official Selection pulls films from Brazil, Iran, Israel and Netherlands. In Tainá 2: A New Amazon Adventure (AAventura Continua) (Brazil 2006, Dir. Mauro Lima, 76 min) Tainá, a warrior in the Amazon joins forces with her friend to defend their beloved forest from invading poachers, there to steal valuable animals from their natural habitat. The children and animals win out once more in the Iranian fable The Liar Shepherd (Choopan-e Dorughgu) (2006, Dir. Siroos Hassanpour 82 min), when an orphaned brother and sister are hired to look after the village’s sheep and end up teaching the adults a lesson in kindness. In Little Heroes three outsiders join forces with a telepathic Russian girl to save a couple stranded in the Negev Desert. An incredible journey ensues, that leaves the ‘outsiders’ knowing they are part of something special. Issues of acceptance and normality fill the screen again during Bonkers (Knetter), a warm-hearted story that takes the 9-year-old protagonist Bonnie along the road to acceptance…on an elephant. The American Rounding First (USA 2005 Dir. Jim Fleigner 97 min) completes the Official Selection for 7 – 11-year-olds. Reminiscent of Stephen Speilberg’s Stand By Me, this is a 1980s set coming-of-age story that wonderfully captures the last summer of childhood.
12 – 14s
The Young Consultants Official Selection for 12 – 14-year-olds provides a mixed collection of films that reflect the rich programme developed for the Festival. With a wide range of films from documentaries to shorts, realism to fantasy, and from a variety of places, the Official Selection takes us on a tour of cinematic diversity.
This year, in addition to feature-length films and documentaries, the Young Consultants have chosen to highlight the work of young filmmakers in the UK by including a selection of the shorts screened during the festival before the features. Other Official Selection titles for 12 to 14 year olds are: the feature-length Children of the Moon (Mondscheinkinder) a moving story in which animation is combined with live-action to create the fantasy world that 12-year-old Lisa has invented to help her little brother Paul deal with an illness that leaves him housebound. When Lisa meets a boy in school and falls in love, strange planets are no longer enough to divert attention away from Paul’s painful reality of being a ‘child of the moon’ and the siblings must come to terms with his illness.
Two very different dreams of a better life link the protagonists from the Danish film We Shall Overcome (Drømmen) (Denmark 2006 Dir. Niels Arden Oplev 106 min) and the Indian Iqbal (India 2005 Dir. Nagesh Kukunoor 132 min). Iqbal is deaf and dumb and has forever dreamed of playing cricket for India, but his skills have always been overlooked until a former cricket star makes everybody sit up and take notice. Cricket allows Iqbal to triumph over attitudes towards his disability as he goes on a momentous journey of pride, bravery and achievement. The 13-year-old male protagonist in We Shall Overcome (Drømmen) triumphs over a different kind of prejudice as he, inspired by Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights, stands up to the school headmaster’s brutal regime and kick starts a sea of change.
A non-fiction example of mistreatment is given by the documentary China Blue (Canada 2005 Dir Micha Peled 86 min) as it provides disturbing insight into the world of teenage Chinese factory workers and the conditions under which they make the clothes we wear. Shot in secret, China Blue provides never-seen-before footage that shows how Western companies make huge profits by abusing the lesser rights of factory workers in other countries.