3-2-1 BLAST OFF! The 2024 Children’s Film Festival (CFFS) returns to Seattle February 2nd – 10th with nearly two hundred films, including features and shorts from 40 countries. In its 19th year, the festival has adopted a space theme, presenting unique and engaging films for families to enjoy, impressive workshops for all ages, programs geared toward curious teens, and adorable short films aimed at little film buffs. This year, festival organizers encourage patrons to go to the theater and experience each film on the big screen. Virtual screenings will continue to be offered from February 2 to 10, but not all films will be available for screening at home. Find the theater schedule below and how to purchase tickets online.
2024 Children’s Film Festival Seattle: Opening day
The festival opens Friday, February 2, with an ” out-of-this-world ” event: “WALL-E” screens at the Boeing and PACCAR IMAX Theater at Pacific Science Center.
An eco-conscious Pixar tale of love, curiosity and bravery, “WALL-E” will appeal to attentive viewers thanks to its universal themes and charming characters. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2008, and its message is more important now than it was 16 years ago. Much of the film is without dialogue, and its plot is fairly simple, particularly for the youngest viewers. There are sequences of light peril. EVE retains a powerful laser gun in her arm that she shoots at anything that poses a threat, even WALL-E when they first meet. The fighting and violence are mild and often more comical than scary. The existential message – the threat of waste, overconsumption, and a fractured humanity – may spark some questions from older viewers. Overall, “WALL-E” is an impressive feat of animation that will delight those who have yet to experience the little robot who could.
Storyline: Abandoned on Earth, WALL-E is a robot designed to do one job, and one job only: compact all trash left on the planet. He’s been working for centuries, long after humans aborted the planet for a space station overhead. WALL-E is lonely. His only friend is a cockroach who keeps him company. When a mysterious and luminous robot descends into his small world of trash-packing, WALL-E is in love. EVE is strong, powerful and very curious. Their sweet relationship draws WALL-E out of the dump and back to those who caused the mess in the first place. Except mankind, ravaged by greed and laziness, are bound by their hoverchairs and communicate using screens. Built with a big heart for cleaning and preserving Earth, WALL-E and EVE make surprising change, reuniting humans with the beautiful world they once forsook.
Playing: February 2 at 5:15 p.m. at the PACCAR IMAX Theater at Pacific Science Center. Get tickets here.
Recommended Age: 5+
2024 Children’s Film Festival Seattle: Feature Films
With a lively, action-packed plotline and a traditional-looking alien villain, “Headspace” is a wonderful option for young to mid-elementary school viewers who will love the strange, exciting concept of swallowing an alien without the fear of being too graphic or conceptually dark. (The characters’ rounded features may remind some viewers of “Cocomelon”; the aliens look like people painted blue.) There is mild action and some threatening tones, but nothing too intimidating or overwhelming for most ages.
Storyline: Norman is your average teenage boy with a fascination with aliens and a deep concern for the planet’s future. His conviction of alien life is proven correct when three micro aliens land into his drink, travel through his straw, and directly into his head. Without much choice, the three foreigners enlist Norman to help save the planet from Zolthard, another tiny but lethal, intergalactic gangster who has infiltrated the mind of Norman’s principal, Ms. Witherington and recruited a few other teachers as his human-sized minions. It is up to Norman and his clever friends to stop Zolthard before he wins this battle and conquers Earth.
Playing: February 3 at 5 p.m. at the NWFF cinema in Capitol Hill. Get tickets here. It will also be available for online streaming from February 2-10.
Recommended Age: 7+
Actor-director Niki Koss pursues several intriguing avenues of thought: why do so me families choose to homeschool, and what would a prom for homeschoolers look like? (Read the Seattle’s Child interview with Niki Koss). There is some discussion of suicide, including the way in which one character attempted it (gunshot to the chest). A character with a specialist also examines bullying in school. Geared towards older viewers, “Homeschooled” is a thoughtful documentary aiming to uplift and enlighten. Koss’s gentle handling of each teen’s situation makes the film a bright spot in the festival’s lineup.
Storyline: “Homeschooled” follows four teenagers from different California towns who have chosen to forego traditional education in favor of homeschooling. Freshman blonde Tilly lives on a many-acre farm with her parents and two sisters, who are also homeschooled. She enjoys social activities and has a sweet, innocent relationship with her boyfriend. Brothers Sean and Seamus benefit from the adjustable pacing that homeschooling offers. With various autism, Tourette’s, and ADHD diagnoses, the brothers connect with friends by connecting online. However, their attentive mom ensures they get a reasonable amount of out-of-the-house stimulation. Cheyanne and her doting mom had some tough years suffering homelessness. When she also endured severe bullying in elementary school, Cheyanne decided that homeschooling was the best option for their situation. All four kids are preparing for the big finale: a prom hosted by the film crew that recreates the experience down to the “proposal,” the dresses, and the good time had by all. Told through heartwarming interviews and thoughtfully shot footage, “Homeschooled” is the documentary for every teen.
Playing: February 9 at 8 p.m. at the Northwest Film Forum cinema in Capitol Hill. Director Niki Koss and producer Ryan DeLaney will be in attendance. Get tickets here. It will also be available for online streaming from February 2-10.
Recommended Age: 10+
Based on Michele Ziolkowski’s children’s book trilogy, “Mountain Boy” follows a young boy cast out by his father because he is autistic. At its heart, “Mountain Boy” is terribly sad, though strangers’ kindness, generosity, and acceptance turn his story around and show him an alternative to a life of solitude. There are subtitles throughout the film. Viewers with solid reading skills will easily follow the story and dialogue. Though the boy is abandoned by his father and accused of being possessed by evil spirits by others, his optimistic resolve makes him a protagonist for whom we can all root.
Storyline: “Mountain Boy” follows Suhail, a young Emirati boy with autism and his loyal canine companion Barakah. His mother died in childbirth. His father and those in his village do not understand his differences, so they cast him out to live a solitary life in the Fujairah mountains. Life is not as complicated for Suhail as the adults around him make it. He understands nature and empathy. When a young girl gets lost in his mountain, Suhail helps her return home, setting off a chain of events that leads the boy and dog to revisit civilization. The duo has a surprising effect on those they encounter. Their epic journey to Abu Dhabi, hoping to find his mother’s family, finds Suhail leaving an indelible mark on all of those who give the boy a chance and open their hearts to see past his differences to the beautiful soul that beats inside.
Playing: February 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Northwest Film Forum cinema in Capitol Hill. Director Zainab Shaheen and producer Nancy Paton will be in attendance. Get tickets here. It will also be available for online streaming from February 2-10.
Recommended Age: 10+
From the writer of “Ratatouille,” “The Inventor” closes out the 2024 Children’s Film Festival Seattle. Featuring big-name voices like Marion Cotillard, Daisy Ridley, and Stephen Fry, the beautiful work combines stop motion and 2D hand-drawn animation to dazzling effect. There are some scenes that pit science against religion, including questioning God’s work. There is also discussion of death, and the final scene – the protagonist flying into the Milky Way – is a possible abstract rendering of da Vinci’s passing.
Storyline: Famed artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci (Fry) is nearing the end of his life, yet he still can’t stop exploring the physical world around him. When presented with an opportunity to investigate some of life’s greatest mysteries, including the soul and the answer to life itself, da Vinci takes it. Sent on a magical journey through history and featuring kings, queens, popes, flying machines, and every toy-like invention one might imagine, “The Inventor” will thrill, excite and entertain for the festival’s final night.
Playing: February 10 at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Film Forum cinema in Capitol Hill. Executive producer Kat Alioshin will be in attendance! Get tickets [https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/6200784].
Recommended Age: 8+
2024 Children’s Film Festival Schedule:
Take a look at the full schedule of films and workshops. Visit the Northwest Film Forum website for more information. Teens can take advantage of TeenTix, offering low-cost ways to see films and participate in workshops.