There are many different types of film festivals around the world: independent, new, sci-fi, horror and even comedy. It’s hard to get a seat in those festivals if you’re 7.
The Frederick Film Festival, along with the Weinberg Center for the Arts, have put together an international film festival designed for children ages 6 to 13.
The Maryland International Kids FilmFest returns for its third year at the Weinberg starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 19.
“It started as the Saturday programming for the Frederick Film Festival, which we started in 2009,” said Walter Chalkley, director of the Frederick Film Festival. “On Saturday mornings, we would have a couple of hours of short international films for kids. That was successful enough that we thought it might be interesting to see if we could do a whole festival of just that kind of film — short films either for kids or by kids, if we could do that. It didn’t matter what kind — it could be fiction or documentary, but something that kids would like. Just really short, though. We find that the attention span … if you don’t like something, it’ll only last five minutes anyway.
“We did the Saturday programming for two years, and then in 2010 we started this festival with just a collection of short films and some animation workshops for the kids and usually a feature film or something a little longer for the evening.”
The event features short films from all over the globe, but it also gives children a chance to interact during different workshops.
“We get about 20-25 kids in each one of them. We have an animator who came in the first year — she was a professional animator from Canada and she did flipbooks and mostly character design and those kind of things,” Chalkley said. “The guy we had last year, and we’re having again this year, he did that for the younger kids, but for the older kids, he actually started doing [stop-motion] animation with cameras. He brought a bunch of cameras and tripods and had the kids make little models that moved and they loved it. My kids still talk about it.”
Chalkley says there is no age limit to come to the festival, but that parents always have a better idea of how their children respond to long periods of sitting.
“All kids are different. You know how your kid is going to respond to certain things,” Chalkley said. “I would imagine that there are plenty of 6-year-olds who could get into what’s going on. I’m not sure if I would go much younger than that. I’d say 6 to about 12 or 13.”
For anyone who isn’t into animation, or cartoons for that matter, there are other live-action films that are just as entertaining.
“Every year, we have quite a few live-action films. While some of them are stories, it’s amazing how many of them are documentaries, and I use that word sort of loosely,” Chalkley said. “There was one last year on butterflies. It was about 15 minutes long and it was an examination of butterflies in the wild. Not that there was scientific narration or anything like that, but it showed them doing fascinating things.”
Even though the word “kids” is written in bold letters in the title of the festival, adults shouldn’t be afraid to venture into the Weinberg to participate.
“A lot of these things are snapshots of different cultures. There’s a fair number of American films in there, but there’s a lot from all over the world,” Chalkley said. “We even have a lot from a Croatian film festival and a lot of those are by Croatian kids. I think adults find it interesting in that we have found international short films tend to give children’s intelligence a little bit more respect, not necessarily trying to sell a Happy Meal or a toy and instead it’s trying to tell a story. I’m not saying that’s the case in all of them.
“Last year, when we showed the Wallace and Gromit shorts, we had lots of adults coming in just for those two on Saturday evening. They came in for date night before dinner because [the films] start fairly early. I don’t think parents will be bored. I think they will be fascinated.”