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Children's Film Festival Seattle: Mighty girls and global perspectives

Children's Film Festival Seattle

For two weeks this winter, the Children’s Film Festival Seattle will bring the world to Capitol Hill. There are 17 collections of short films and 14 feature films in the festival, all of them showing a different aspect of the world according to children.

Festival Director Elizabeth Shepherd says the best films for children are typically “child driven.”

“They have characters that children can relate to. The kids are in charge of what is going on in the plot, "she says. "Be the Dream" is the festival theme this year.

Going to a Children’s Film Festival screening can be a mind-broadening experience, particularly when it comes to the short films, which give perspectives from a variety of cultures, using a cornucopia of artistic styles.

“It’s a fast track to global awareness,” Shepherd says.

A jury of local kids aged 8 to 15 will watch all the movies and award prizes at the end.

This year’s 133 short films and 146 total films come from 39 countries and are in 31 languages. How to choose? The website, childrensfilmfestivalseattle.org, has a lot of information about the movies, including what makes them appropriate — or not — for kids of different ages and temperaments. There’s also a place here where organizers list films by country. You can also scroll down the list of short-film compilations to find one whose films and themes best suit your family’s interests.

Here are some highlights of what is coming to festival screens between Jan. 24 and Feb. 9 (Feeling ambitious? Buy a pass covering the entire run of the event):


The lovers, the dreamers, and:

The Muppet Movie Singalong

7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24

SIFF Cinema Egyptian, 805 E. Pine St.

The opening night of the festival is also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of this beloved musical Muppet road movie. Recommended for all ages. If you’re going, grab your ticket early (it will likely sell out) and consider having your children participate in “Pizza and Puppetmaking,” a 5 p.m. workshop with local animator Clyde Petersen.


Mighty girls:

Girls are well represented as protagonists in many festival films this year. Here are three great ones:


3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

The story for this movie about an orphaned girl in search of her brothers came from a workshop of orphaned children in Swaziland. It mixes documentary, fiction, live action and animation. In Siswati and English, with subtitles when necessary. Recommended for ages 9 and up.



5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27

 NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

In a remote Himalayan village, a paraplegic girl fights for the opportunity to go to school. In Ladakhi with English subtitles. Recommended for ages 9 and up.


Supa Modo

7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1

5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

A terminally ill Kenyan girl dreams of becoming a superhero, and inspires her village. In Swahili, Kikuyu and English, with English subtitles. Recommended for ages 11 and up.


For the very young:  

The festival offers two sets of short films for kids 2 and up. There are a few subtitles (parents are encouraged to quietly read them to their kids) but the action is easy to follow without words. And the artistry of the different kinds of animation from around the world is stunning to behold.

Small but Mighty

11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

Twelve animated short films from 10 countries. Here’s one of them, The Bird Wedding,  from Germany.


Feathery and Furry Fun

11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26

10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

Animated short films about animals. There are nine movies from seven countries. Here’s a trailer  from one of them, "Kippkopp in the Grass," from Hungary.


Tales of ordinary girls

One Girl

3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

This documentary looks at the everyday lives of four girls: one in South Sudan, one in Palestine, one in Romania and one in Finland.  There are subtitles. Recommended for ages 10 and up.


For people who speak Spanish, or are learning how:

Para Picar: Historias Cortas en Español

1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

Short films from Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and the U.S., all depicting bold kids exploring their worlds, such as Gonzalo, a 10-year-old from Colombia determined to get to school wearing clean shoes in "3Feet." (Here’s the trailer.) All films are in Spanish with English subtitles. Age recommendation: 8 and older.


A classic silent film

The Adventures of Prince Ahmed

7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

The oldest surviving animated feature, this stop-motion tale from Germany was made in 1926. The duo Miles and Karina will accompany the film with a live performance of their score. Recommended for all ages.


Made in Japan

Japanese animation, or anime, has many fans around the world. Viewers of all ages are drawn into Japanese animators' intricately rendered worlds. The festival offers a couple of events for fans of Japanese film. All films are in Japanese, with English subtitles.

Focus on Japan: Films from the KINEKO Film Festival (Shorts Program)

1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27

3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

Four Japanese-language animated films. Age recommendation: 8 and up.


Chieri and Cherry

7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave.

Chieri, a girl grieving the loss of her father, goes on a magical adventure with her friend, Cherry, a giant stuffed animal with yellow fur and long ears. Age recommendation: 10 and up.

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