The NYICFF & Being ‘Suitable For Kids’

NYICFF 2013 header

It’s hard to believe that it is that time of the year again, but it is!. That’s right, the 2013 New York International Children’s Film Festival starts in exactly one week (Friday, March 1st). The festival truly is a fantastic experience if you’ve never attended. There are not only plenty of great films being screened, but there are also many workshops and activities for the younger viewers. Those viewer in particular, are who make the NYICFF a great experience.

The Goals of the Festival

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to attend the festival’s screening for The Secret of Kells. I was there to meet director Tomm Moore and while it was a thorough pleasure to meet him, the surprise of the day was listening to the Q&A session that followed after the screening. The kids asked some very intelligent questions and the really drove home the point that the festival is much more than simply screening great films, it’s also about inspiring in kids the wonders of film as an artistic medium.

That’s the goal of the festival, and it manages to pull it off with a program that caters to all ages (some films are for 7 & up) with relative ease. That’s not the interesting part, what’s truly amazing (and what astonishes me every year) is that the program it puts together contains films that are not only suitable for kids, their suitable for adults too!

How The NYICFF Caters to Adults AND Kids

Those of us with an interest (passion even) for animation already know that animation that is suitable for kids is also suitable for adults. Unfortunately, (and certainly before Pixar’s time), there existed a widespread belief among the public at large that animated films were the preserve of the under 12s. That’s changed dramatically in the last 20 years as animated films have begun to cater more to adults through the use of subtle subplots and double entendre.

The wonderful thing about what the NYICFF screens though, is that while certain films do cater explicitly to children, plenty of other films aren’t as overtly aimed at kids.

The festival screens many Studio Ghibli films that are famous for shaming many ‘mature’ films with their quality but the Japanese studio is far from alone. This year Ernest & Celestine, The Day of the Crows and The Painting are just some of the features being screened that can enjoyed by adults and kids. The shorts lineup is spectacular as well. PES’ Fresh Guacamole makes an appearance as does Friendsheep; a hilarious short about a wolf having to work with his lunch.

Why That’s Important

It’s tempting to think that such broad appeal doesn’t mean anything; but it does. The kind of films the NYICFF shows aren’t just great films suitable for kids, or even great animated films, they’re just great films. That can do a lot for young, impressionable minds as they can see how cinema (and film) can exist in a much higher capacity than what Hollywood pumps out. Adults benefit too; spending their hard earned cash in something that has cultural and social benefits. So what are you waiting for, get your tickets now!

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