Finding a family-friendly movie can involve extensive research these days, especially with younger children. Every spring, though, comes one of the Twin Cities’ largest cultural events that provides a diverse array of quality cinematic choices for parents and their children.
Presented by The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, The 2012 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival launches on April 12 and concludes on May 3. Each spring since 2005, the Festival’s Childish Films showcase has screened family friendly children’s films from across the globe over three weekends. Curated by Deborah Girdwood and Isabelle Harder, this is an excellent opportunity not only to share a good movie with your children but also to introduce them to other countries and cultures.
Now on its 30th anniversary, this year’s Festival will include six children’s feature films and two shorts programs, one for ages five and up and one for ages eight and up, and a free family show at Central Library in downtown Minneapolis for ages three and up. The Festival calls St. Anthony Main Theatre’s five screens home, nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. For show times and dates, visit mspfilmfest.org. Here are a few films to look for:
Chandani, Daughter of the Elephant Whisperer
Sri Lanka/Germany (documentary, ages 8+);
Sinhala language with some English narration and subtitles
A 16-year-old Sri Lankan girl from a long line of (all male) legendary elephant whisperers, Chandani steps out of her culture’s traditional female role and begins to care for Kandula, a young spirited elephant. The film reveals an amazing portrait of a girl and her father breaking with tradition, and the complicated and ever-evolving relationships between humans and elephants.
Crocodiles Strike Back
Germany (drama/adventure, ages 10+);
Live action, In German with English subtitles
The sequel to last year’s Festival audience favorite Crocodiles about a misfit band of crime-fighting kids, this second film in the German kids’ trilogy packs even more fun-filled thrills. Outfoxing the bad guys on their bicycles, skateboard, and a souped-up wheelchair, the band of misfit friends triumph again in this high-speed coming of age action adventure.
Norway (fantasy, ages 6+); Live action, in Norwegian with English subtitles
A huge hit in Norway, Magic Silver is a family-friendly fantasy about a colony of blue gnomes living in the Norwegian mountains and their young Princess Bluerose. Magic Silver is a classic fairytale told with stunning effects and colorful hues.
Nicostratos, Le Pelican
Greece/France (drama/adventure, ages 9+); Live action, in Greek and French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere! Fourteen-year-old Yannis lives in a small Aegean island community with his estranged fisherman father. Feeling lonely, Yannis rescues a fledgling pelican he names Nicostratos, and brings him home to raise him secretly. The only problem is Yannis’ foreboding father, who does not embrace the change.
Tales of the Night
France (fantasy, ages 6+); Animated, in French with English subtitles
Tales of the Night weaves together six fables, each unfolding in a unique locale including Tibet, medieval Europe, and the Caribbean. Silhouetted characters set off against Day-Glo backgrounds transport viewers into brave, wryly humorous adventures with enchanted werewolves, talking bees, serpents, sorcerers, majestic horses, and magical drums.
U.S. (documentary, ages 8+)
This inspiring documentary goes on the road with Circus Smirkus, the only traveling youth circus in the U.S. Circus Dreams captures one summer’s Big Top Tour of some of the finest young circus arts performers in the country.
Award-Winning short Films
The Childish Films 2012 line-up of shorts will include animated films such as Luminaris, Argentina; Blue Elephant, Taiwan; and Two Princesses, Russia. Two child-animated shorts will also be screened, made by a Belgian artists collective. Live action shorts include the Oscar short-listed The Road Home, U.K.; Colored Pencils, Brazil; and Beans, Canada.