TIFF Kids International Film Festival Picks

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There’s nothing wrong with mainstream movies, I’ve taken my kids to a few, but they only seem to reflect a narrow spectrum of the films available to kids. The 2015 TIFF Kids International Film Festival (April 7-19) gives families an opportunity to explore a variety of full feature and short feature films developed specifically for kids under 13.

There are a number of weekday screenings planned but most of those are reserved for school visits. That doesn’t mean families can’t enjoy some great international films together. The problem may be on deciding what films to see. Having gone through the movie descriptions and watched the trailers with my own kids (age 8, 10, 12) here’s a list of our film picks from this year’s festival.

Age 3-5

There aren’t many full feature films planned for this age group though the opening film, Shaun the Sheep is bound to entertain young and old. We love (and own) a few of the Wallace & Gromit animations so this new film is big on our list.

I’ve heard if you can only make one film this year, the opening night party is your best pick. Your premium ticket will get you in to see Shaun the Sheep plus before the film families can enjoy food and fun, including the technology playground digiPlaySpace.

Another great pick for young kids is Reel Rascals. This collection of 13 short films contains suitable material for young audiences (rated G) though some films my contain subtitles. A sample of one of the short films to air within this collection:

Age 5-8

Similarly to the younger 3 to 5 crowd, Shaun the Sheep would be our feature films pick but Loot Bag Junior: Animals on Adventures would be our short film collection pick. Twelve short animated films highlight themes of friendship, creative thinking and believing in yourself, including some new animated Peanuts films.

A sample of one of the short films to air within this collection:

Age 8-10

As you get into the older age groups you’ll find more film selections covering more social issues like fitting in. Two films quickly rose to the top of our wish list.

A Little Game

We were partial drawn to this film because of the chess reference (my March challenge is learning to play chess). A Little Game touches on so many subjects that resonate with kids, from fitting in and friendship to socioeconomic issues and believe in one’s self.

Paper Planes

Who hasn’t made a paper plane? Now add a little competition, courage, and friendship and dealing with grief and you have Paper Planes, another great film.

Beyond our feature film picks there are a number of short film collections on our list

The 8 short film collection, Being Me, highlights films showing that kids around the world deal with similar scenarios like wanting to belong and accepting their uniqueness. A sample of one of the short films to air within this collection:

Many of the films at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival touch on subjects relevant to kids, topics not often covered in mainstream films. The festival is also about creativity. Using film as a medium to connect with kids is creative on its own but the Creativity X Curiosity collection consists of 12 short film illustrating creative ways filmmakers tell their stories. A sample of one of the short films to air within this collection:

Age 10-13

As kids get older their interests change and their sense of self evolves. As any parent knows first hand, the tween years can be fret with stress and thoughts of the future. Our two favourite film picks for this age group are very different.

Landfill Harmonic

With the environment being something on the mind of many youth, taking care of the earth for their future, Landfill Harmonic is bound to be an interest. Touching on issues of waste and landfill and tapping into creativity and art through handmade instruments, this film is inspiring and shows that positive change isn’t restricted by age.

Famous Five

A very different film, Famous Five taps into mystery and fun. I always believe foreign films are best enjoyed in the original audio with subtitles versus overdubbing in English. The adventure to be had in Famous Five should be enough to entice kids to read the subtitles and hopefully will keep their mind open to films that may not be in their native language.

There are also a few short film collections aimed at this older age group. At the Crossroads consists of 4 films that require the protagonist to make a decision, stay true to him or herself or fall into step with peers. The films deal with bullying, peer pressure and trying to fit in, a fact of life for many tweens. A sample of one of the short films to air within this collection:

The 4 short films in the Hear Me collection deal with social justice, self-confidence and equality, topics that we as parents never imaged our kids will be interested in or find themselves trusted in the middle. The subject matter should be considered when planning on attending this screening. Both short film collections are opened mainly for school screenings but there is one public screening available.

Along with the films there are a number of FREE on-site events scheduled during the TIFF Kids International Film Festival such as a photo booth and button making. You can see the full schedule on the site.

I would suggest adding access to the digiPlaySpace to your ticket price. I wrote about the technology playground as one of our March Break picks and the space will continue to be open during the film festival. The hands-on exhibits will inspire your kids on how technology and creativity can merge to create amazing things, like controlling a virtual environment with their mind or working together in a collaborative team game (two of my favourite exhibits).

You can find more information on the TIFF Kids International Film Festival on the TIFF website and follow along on their twitter feed.

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