By Frank Abderholden email@example.com March 7, 2014 7:00PM
Migrating butterflies, magic drawings, a colorful bird who must conquer its fear of flying, and the legendary blues singer and guitarist B.B. King are just some of the short children’s films on display next week.
For three days starting Friday, Round Lake Beach will be the epicenter of short films geared toward children when the Cultural and Civic Center hosts the first touring International Children’s Film Fest.
There will be seven screenings for children ages 2 to 10 that will feature a total of 44 short films from 22 countries.
Children have the opportunity to vote for their favorite films after the screenings and their votes will determine the winner of the “Best of the ICFilmFest.”
In addition, children will have an opportunity to enjoy a “Cultural Kids Zone” where they can interact with artists and volunteers from different cultural organizations in the community.
Families can bring their own picnic lunch or snacks.
“The ICMC (International Children’s Media Center) has culled some of the ‘best of the best’ films made internationally to bring a truly exciting international film festival to families in Round Lake Beach and Lake County,” said Monica Marr, director of the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center at 2007 Civic Center Way in Round Lake Beach.
“We know that parents care about the quality of what their kids watch. A film festival is a great way to entertain children while opening their minds to the world in new ways,” she said.
The film festival is being curated by Nicole Dreiske, executive director of ICMC.
It is supported by the Cultural and Civic Center Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and by Howard and Pam Conant.
Dreiske believes the interactive nature of the festival is important.
“Watching movies shouldn’t be a passive experience for children and at the ICFilmFest, it isn’t. Lively discussions and voting is designed to make the experience memorable and interactive for all the movie lovers in the family,” she said.
“Instead of just sitting there, they have to think about what is the best movie and why. Kids find out they are very smart about movies,” said Dreiske in a telephone interview.
Dreiske is on a mission to “take festivals where no festival has gone before.” She was responsible for the one in Waukegan last year and the city’s park district is working on another one for this summer. She said she wants to change the relationship of kids, between them and their screens.
“They are watching 1,400 hours a year on the screen,” she said, and instead of just being the enemy who says no to a child’s demand to have more screen time, she wants parents to interact.
“When you read a child a book, you can see how they react. But how does the child respond to the screen. Parents need to interact,” she said, recounting how a mom gets involved and plays a digital game with the kids and ends up with the high score.
She said the digital age is doing things that we are just now learning about, such as young people with “digital dementia” where they have large gaps in their memory.
“With the vast number of hours kids are engaged with screens, we need engage them in ways that are meaningful,” she said.
“It’s not mindless enjoyment, it’s mindful viewing,” said Dreiske.
By taking a ballot before the screening, kids will have to think about what they are seeing and then weigh which films they like the best when they vote.
“This is an opportunity,” she says.
The programs feature films as diverse as “Colored Pencils,” a Brazilian film about a boy’s magical drawings; “Monarch,” a beautiful Mexican film about migrating butterflies; the “Flap Crashers” from Denmark about a colorful bird who must overcome his fear of flying; and “One Shoe Blues” from the U.S., starring legendary blues man, B.B. King.
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