Arts Listings

Alameda Hosts Second Annual Children’s Film Festival

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:36:00 AM
            Lost and Found (U.K., 2008), by Philip Hunt, screens this weekend as part of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival.
Lost and Found (U.K., 2008), by Philip Hunt, screens this weekend as part of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival.

The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, founded last year as a one-day event by a group of parents whose children attend the Renaissance School in Oakland, will be held Saturday and Sunday at Michaan’s Auctions, the restored Art Deco movie  

The festival will include about three dozen films, both live-action and animated, feature-length and short, from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Argentina, the U.K. and Ireland, Finland and Norway, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, India, Australia and Singapore. The program will also feature a hands-on animation workshop headed by Pixar storyboard artists Matthew Luhn and Valerie LaPointe. Kids aged 7 and older will make animation characters that will be filmed (and screened at the end of each day) and learn how to make flipbooks and zoetropes.  

In addition, at 2:15 p.m. on both days, special guest Jules Oosterwegel of the Netherlands, who has filmed more than 300 children’s street games in 20 countries worldwide, will hold a playtime open to all festival participants, screening a selection of his films and teaching street games. 

Films to be screened are mostly of recent date, though the well-known Canadian animated film, The Man Who Planted Trees (1987), from the Jean Giono story, will be shown. Another well-known figure represented by some of his BBC animated films will be Nick Park, creator of “Wallace and Gromit.” 

The festival also features the Reel Cafe, with international food from local restaurants and markets. 

Shelley Trott, one of the parents who founded the festival, spoke about its beginning as a “creative idea for an event to promote the values of the school,” which features language immersion in French and Spanish, “particularly dedicated to the visual arts and music ... it seemed like a natural fit.” 

A few in the group had “some sense of producing a public event,” Trott wryly said. “I’m a dancer and choreographer who’s produced my own performances. My husband’s a video producer; we’ve made documentaries together.” For last year’s festival, they helped 15 Renaissance School students make a documentary about Angelino Sandri, the gondolier of Lake Merritt.  

Jim Capobianco of Pixar [whose new animated film, Leonardo, about Da Vinci’s dreams of flight, will be screened was a parent in the group. Capobianco was the “web designer who hosted the site, a graphic designer who made our posters and mailings,” added Trott. “We all naively volunteered—and became passionately committed. It feels like it’s going to get its legs!” 

Trott joked about how the group was “pretty green; we still haven’t really contacted a lot of companies about corporate sponsorships.” But the Media Alliance is helping back this year’s festival, and relationships are being formed. “We hope to help Jules Oosterwegel further his project of gathering street games with a website where others who film games can upload them. We want the festival to have an educational component.” 

“It’s been pretty intense!” Trott exclaimed. “But we’ll see how successful it is this year with two days. Last year, we had over 700 attending in one day. It showed us how much demand for this sort of thing there is among young families. Next year, we hope to have open submissions.”  

The festival is committed to “present culturally diverse, value-affirming cinema for and about children”—and provide an annual “Playdate for the Imagination.” 




Saturday and Sunday at Michaan’s Auctions, 2700 Saratoga St., Alameda. $10-$20; free admission for children under 3.