Providence Children’s Film Fest 2016

The holidays are over and the New Year is upon us; in the Rhode Island film community that means the Providence Children’s Film Festival is coming up soon. The ever-growing and eclectic festival is now in its seventh year and will be running at locations throughout the city February 6 through February 21. This year’s festival will feature 16 feature films and over 75 short films from around the world. The screenings will take place at the RISD Metcalf Auditorium, The Gilder Center For The Arts at The Wheeler School and the Avon Cinema, among others.

Besides presenting a great selection of quality independent and international films for ages 3 to 18, the Providence Children’s Film Festival offers a variety of workshops, film talks and presentations to help expand the movie watching and understanding experience. The Providence Children’s Film Festival also will offer their popular hands-on youth filmmaking workshops at RISD, which will include instruction in claymation and live-action film-making. These workshops will take place the weekend of February 13 and 14.

The films presented by the Providence Children’s Film Festival are top-notch films from around the world. They are aimed at a younger audience and comprise a wide variety of genres, including documentaries, dramas and comedies. A few of the films from this year’s presentations that I am personally looking forward to are Landfill Harmonic, a documentary about a small village orchestra in Paraguay whose instruments are all either recovered from or made out of garbage from the village landfill; Rainbow (Dhanak), a recent Indian film about a 10-year-old girl, Pari, who leads her blind 8-year-old brother, Chotu, on an adventure to find Bollywood super star Sharuhk Khan because she believes that he can help her brother regain his eyesight; and Dummie The Mummy, a comedy from the Netherlands about a young boy who befriends a mummy. And this is only a small sampling of the variety of films the Providence Children’s Film Festival will bring to its audience.

I asked the festival’s Director of programming, Eric Bilodeau, a few questions about the upcoming festival.

Joshua Gravel: What are the origins of the Providence Children’s Film Festival?

Eric Bilodeau: A group of parents getting together who shared the desire to have more film options to bring their children to. Walt Disney and Pixar are fine studios, but there’s so much more out there that requires an extraordinary effort to bring them here.

JG: How did you get involved with the festival?

EB: I was asked by this group of parents to help with programming films. They had no experience with finding and booking films. I’ve been programming for almost 30 years, so I picked up the programming ball and ran!

JG: How has the festival changed over the years?

EB: It’s become a more popular festival attendance-wise. The first year attracted around 1,000 people. Now going into our seventh year, we are getting over 5,000 attending. We have also developed an online resource called our Film Hub. This part of our site collects all the information of the films we have shown (and will show), gives information about the films and points to where you can find them (if they are available). Several films also come with Film Talk guides that we paid educators to develop.

JG: And how do you hope the festival changes in the future?

EB: Increasing the attendance by double is my hope. Also, we would love to bring films with powerful/creative messages into schools.

JG: What is the selection process for the films like?

EB: As a programmer, I watch hundreds of feature-length films a year in order to find ones that fit our basic mission statement: “Bringing films to Providence that will inspire, educate, connect and delight our communities.” We also encourage people to submit their short- and feature-length films directly. Together, a youth jury and I will watch and judge films that will make it into the festival.

The Providence Children’s Film Festival starts on Saturday, February 6, and runs through Sunday, February 21. For film descriptions, schedules, screening locations and general information about the festival, please visit their website providencechildrensfilmfestival.org.

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