Finding international movies for children is not easy, but Elizabeth Shepherd, director of youth programs at the Northwest Film Forum, along with the organization’s interns, know where to find them.
“This group of interns researched children’s film festivals worldwide and we actively solicited prizewinners and other audience favorite films from all over the world,” she said.
The Northwest Film Forum is hosting the two-week Children’s Film Festival Seattle starting Thursday, Jan. 24.
The full schedule is well worth perusing, but here are five of Shepherd’s festival highlights:
“The Adventures of Prince Achmed,” with live music
Lotte Reiniger’s “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” was made in 1926 and is the world’s oldest existing animated feature.
“Achmed” uses an elaborate animation system using silhouette figures animated frame-by-frame against elaborate backgrounds.
Shepherd said that technique would not be used for a feature today.
“I truly believe would not be possible today, it’s all a bit of a lost art,” she said.
Local music duo, Miles & Karina, will provide the live accompaniment to the silent film. The group plays glockenspiel, violin, accordion and several other instruments.
The Film Forum commissioned the “Achmed” score ten years ago for an early Children’s Film Festival, and in the intervening years, the film has been shown around the world to many different venues.
“The Adventures of Prince Achmed,” plays Friday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m. All ages.
Films celebrating the resilience of strong girls
“Liyana,” co-presented by The Seattle Globalist, combines documentary and dramatic approaches, as it follows a group of orphaned children learning to make animated movies. The children create a short animated story about a girl very much like them. “Liyana” plays Saturday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. Ages 9+
“Chuskit” is about a disabled girl who must move mountains — almost literally — to go to school in her Himalayan village. Quick-paced and entertaining, it sheds light on the plight of children all over the world who need to go through much just to access education. “Chuskit” plays Sunday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. Ages 9+
“Supa Modo” is “a brilliant film about hope,” Shepherd said. It tells the story of a girl with a terminal illness, and how her family and community rallies to fulfill her fantasy of being a superhero. Although the film confronts death, it’s filled with life at its most vibrant. “Supa Modo” plays Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 2, at 5 p.m. Ages 11+
The documentary “One Girl” follows four girls around the planet—one each from South Sudan, Palestine, Finland and Romania–as they each go to school, work, play, make friends, and interact with family.
“Child marriage is a part of the struggle for the girl from South Sudan, and this is an issue we believe that our Seattle audience members should know more about,” Shepherd said. “One Girl” plays Saturday, Feb. 2, 3 p.m. Ages 10+
“Kayak to Klemtu,” co-presented by Longhouse Media
This feature from the Pacific Northwest follows a Native American girl determined to protest a proposed pipeline that would threaten her people’s waters. She embarks on a kayak journey all the way down the Inside Passage from Alaska through western British Columbia, dragging her highly colorful family every paddle-dip of the way.
For the “Klemtu” screening, the Northwest Film Forum collaborated with Longhouse Media, an organization founded “to catalyze Indigenous people and communities to use media as a tool for self-expression, cultural preservation, and social change.”
“Longhouse Media has its offices in the Northwest Film Forum building and we have long collaborated to present films by Indigenous makers. The Indigenous Showcase program is a longtime, ongoing effort at NWFF, and Children’s Film Festival Seattle has always included Indigenous Showcase programs created in collaboration with Longhouse Media,” Shepherd said.
“This year, [Longhouse Media] suggested the film ‘Kayak to Klemtu’ for this program and we joyfully accepted the film as it contains very important messages about family, the environment and the resilience of young people,” Shepherd said.
“Kayak to Klemtu” plays Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. Ages 12+
Focus on Japan: Films From the KINEKO Film Festival
KINEKO is a kids’ film festival in Tokyo. Shepherd was on the international jury of KINEKO in 2017, and this year, the Northwest Film Forum is bringing a collection of films that the festival featured.
Shepherd said she couldn’t choose her favorite. “I love them all!”
But she confessed a soft spot for “Masuboro of the Wind,” about a world where human children and anthropomorphic animals go to school together.
The collection of Japanese short films, all animated, will be Sunday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m.; and again on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Ages 8+
The Festival kicks off Thursday night, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m., with a singalong to a favorite kid’s feature, “The Muppet Movie,” from 1979, at SIFF Egyptian. All other screenings happen at the Northwest Film Forum itself, at 1515 12th Ave., Seattle. The festival concludes Saturday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m., with an awards ceremony, plus screenings of short films made by kids in festival workshops.
For more programming and more information, visit the Festival schedule here.