Last year, I planned on attending Providence Children’s Film Festival (PCFF) and even showed all the preview clips to my boys so they could select their favorite (Moon Man). Sadly, we missed out on getting tickets because they sold out – quickly – and even my Motif creds couldn’t get me a pass. Many of the other age-appropriate films were subtitled, which I didn’t think would work for non-reading boys. So I didn’t go.
This year I have a much better shot at getting my choice of tickets because the PCFF, which runs from Feb 12 – Feb 22, switched venues from the cozy, but small Cable Car Cinema to several larger locations, all of which are in close proximity to one another to create a true festival ambiance. They’ve also added more show times, making the festival run an extra few days – long enough to accommodate plenty of showings of all 18 films, along with the activities, workshops, discussion groups and ceremonies. Phew!
As I perused the schedule, I saw many films of interest to me, but not a ton in my son’s age range that didn’t have subtitles. Would my 8-year-old, who’s not a fast reader, be able to understand and enjoy a foreign film? I decided to contact PCFF and ask their advice.
Executive director Anisa Raoof explained to me that children of all ages can grasp a film’s meaning from the music and cinematography, along with a little help from a reading adult who’s in whispering distance. Though PCFF provides an age recommendation, all of the films are kid-appropriate. No slaughtering of zombies or demonic possession here! Admittedly some of the films contain subject matter that can be rather weighty, like divorce and bullying, but they’re intended to promote discussion and critical thinking. It’s up to parents to assess their own child’s tolerance and decide for themselves. If you prefer to be on the safe side, there are plenty of great movies for the younger set like Antboy and Ulises and the 10,000 Moustaches. Who can resist a movie about a young boy with an enormous moustache?
If you are frightened by the prospect of endless fart jokes and princesses with unrealistic waistlines, remember that these films are appropriate for people of all ages – not just children — and each film is carefully chosen. The selection process for this year began almost as soon as last year’s festival ended, as Eric Bilodeau, director of programming, started scouring the world for the best of the best.
Aside from seeking out material, the PCFF receives hundreds of submissions. To decide which films will be shown, Bilodeau shows them to a panel of 40 to 50 adults and children. The adults typically look for quality films, while the kids act as a reality check, answering the question, “Yeah, but am I enjoying it?” This creates the perfect balance of artistic integrity and entertainment.
The PCFF provides Rhode Islanders with a unique opportunity to see films we can’t otherwise access. Some of the highlights of this year’s festival include the Academy Award-nominated Song of the Sea (a silent movie for all ages) and the US premiere of Scrap Wood War, an intense but beautiful film about bullying. Many of these terrific works of art will never end up on Netflix or Amazon. If you’re excited about exposing your children to something other than the Hollywood hits, get your tickets now. Afterward, bring your brood to the Flatbread Company for pizza. If you have your ticket stub, the kids get free drinks, and you’ll be supporting a major PCFF sponsor. I can’t think of a better way to spend a winter afternoon, can you?
View the schedule for the PCFF: providencechildrensfilmfestival.org/2015-festival-schedule and purchase tickets here: app.arts-people.com/?ticketing=pcff.