News Column

Bethlehem's SouthSide film fest brings back free kids movies

June 9, 2013

YellowBrix

June 09--After an absence of four years, the children's film series is back at the SouthSide Film Festival.

The festival is screening nearly 60 children's short films, including many award winners. And they're all free.

The series offers six blocks that each include several films (most are only a few minutes long). The blocks of movies will be shown on a rotating basis Wednesday through Saturday at Godfrey Daniels in south Bethlehem.

Georgeann Vaclavik, who is married to Jeff Vaclavik, president of presenter SouthSide Film Institute, says she pushed to reinstate films geared toward younger children.

She wanted families to be able to see films that are "very artistic and creative." She was adamant that the children's films be free. "It can be expensive to take kids to the movies," she says. "We wanted to bring the community together through the arts."

The opening event will have a red carpet. Children can put on boas and sunglasses, hold a statuette and get their photo taken. It will also offer popcorn, cookies and drinks and a strolling magician. Then kids can watch an hour-long block of films from the New York International Children's Film Festival.

The films in the series include 37 shorts from the New York children's film festival and 19 from Weston Woods Studios, a division of publisher Scholastic that animates children's books.

The films come from all over the world, and range from hand-drawn animation to mixed media to stop motion to live action. They range in length from 1 minute to 30 minutes.

One of the shorts, "Notebook Babies," was created by Reading elementary school teacher Tony Dusko. He discovered seven years ago that by making a simple animation of a grilled cheese sandwich, he could help his fifth graders focus on getting ready for lunch.

He started making short videos, inspired by his students' drawings. The children, he says, loved the videos, which run 30 seconds to 2 minutes. He started a "Notebook Babies" YouTube channel "to put them out there for other teachers to use." The videos cover topics ranging from science to anti-bullying. They have won awards at film festivals and four have aired on PBS Kids show "Sesame Street."

Highlights of the film series include the half-hour long "Gruffalo's Child," made in the United Kingdom and based on a popular book. It's a follow-up to the 2009 "The Gruffalo," which was nominated for an Oscar for best short animation.

The favorite of children who helped select the films is "Extinction of the Saber-Toothed Housecat," a humorous American film about a fanciful prehistoric creature.

Georgeann Vaclavik's favorite is "Metro," in which a fox steals a young girl's train ticket, and she follows him underground and makes an amazing discovery. The 5-minute film by American illustrator Jake Wyatt is "amazingly beautiful," she says.

One particularly creative film is "Dodu: The Cardboard Boy," a Portuguese movie about a boy who sails a boat on the sea.

The films from Weston Woods range from adaptations of Mo Willems contemporary tales "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus," "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog" and "Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion" to classics like "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak and "Doctor De Soto" by Williams Steig.

Here's a summary of the films in each block:

-- Weston Woods Block 1:

Includes "Children Make Terrible Pets" by Peter Brown; "Do Unto Otters" by Laurie Keller; "Good Night, Good Night Construction Site" by Sherri Duskey Rinker; "Hi! Fly Guy" by Tedd Arnold; "True Story of The Three Little Pigs" by Jon Scieszka and "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus" by Mo Willems.

-- Weston Woods Block 2:

Includes "Bink and Gollie" by Kate DiCamillo; "My Garden" by Kevin Henkes; "Sky Color" by Peter Reynolds; "The Teacher From The Black Lagoon" by Mike Thaler; "Doctor DeSoto" and "Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion."

-- Weston Woods Block 3:

Includes "Picnic" by Emily Arnold McCully; "Office Buckle and Gloria" by Peggy Rathmann; "The Curious Garden" by Peter Brown; "The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash" by Trinka Hakes Noble; "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog," "Edwina The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct" by Mo Willems and "Where The Wild Things Are."

Films selected from New York International Children's Film Festival also are grouped in three rotating blocks.

A summary of films in each block:

-- New York Film Festival Block 1:

"B/W Races," Italy: A quirky cut-out animation about a car race in which a driver who runs others off the track gets his comeuppance. 2.5 minutes.

"Dodu: The Cardboard Boy," Portugal: A cardboard boy and a bottle-cap ladybug set sail into a moonlit sea and have a dream adventure. 5 minutes.

"Notebook Babies," United States: Reading's Tony Dusko creates characters designed to help kids learn but that also are sometimes silly.

"SS Keenan at Sea," United States: Animated short featuring the indie-folk duo The Girls and their dog who are lost at sea. 2 minutes.

"Gulp," United Kingdom: Stop-motion film depicting a fisherman going about his daily catch broke a world record for the largest stop-motion animation set. 2 minutes.

"Metro," United States: After a fox steals her train ticket, a young girl must pursue him. 5 minutes.

"Twist & Shout," Japan: Two puppets travel to Abbey Road to shoot the video for their ukulele version of The Beatles' "Twist and Shout." 3 minutes.

"Ernesto," United Kingdom: Seven-year-old Ernesto resorts to drastic measures to get rid of his baby teeth. 7 minutes.

"Who is Not Sleeping?" Sweden: Rabbit is sleeping over at Teddy Pig's house when the lights go out and something doesn't feel quite right. 4 minutes.

"Behind," Canada: After a trying day, a little girl realizes that her best friend has been with her all along. 3 minutes.

"The Gruffalo's Child," United Kingdom: The Gruffalo's child ignores her father's warnings and tiptoes out into the snow in search of the Big Bad Mouse. 30 minutes.

-- New York Film Festival Block 2:

"Mi'au," United Kingdom: A group of birds sit together on a branch, chirping away at each in their native tongue. 1 minute.

"Ormie," Canada: A hungry pig employs Wile E. Coyote-type contraptions and half-baked plans to try to reach cookies in a jar. 4 minutes.

"All That Cats," Hungary: A duo of hip-hop cats performs beatbox rhythms to transform everyday situations into a musical experience. 3 minutes.

"The Yellow Balloon," United States: The true story of a dramatic event that takes place on a New York City subway, featuring a girl and her yellow balloon. 3 minutes.

"Precise Peter," Germany: A compulsive dad is excited about introducing his boy to the joys of al fresco dining, but his son can't quite get with the program. 5 minutes.

"Whistleless," Denmark: In this musical cartoon, a bird struggles to find his voice in a world full of different noises. 5 minutes.

"How the Shammies Bathed," Latvia: In this collage and mixed media animation, a foreboding "drip-drop" coming from a dark room turns out to be only water in the tub. 7 minutes.

"Murphy's Shorts," United States: A kid on a diving board keeps bouncing, higher and higher, as sister, dad and baby watch with growing concern. 2 minutes.

"The Little Boy and the Beast," Germany: A boy has to figure out what to do when his mother turns into a beast. 6.5 minutes.

"Snowflakes and Carrots," Canada: A girl steals the carrot noses from all the snowmen she can find. 4 minutes.

Other shorts are "Library -- Shut Up Please," "Mobile," "Blue" and "Who's There?"

-- New York Film Festival Block 3:

"Luminaris," Argentina: A live action stop-motion about a man who works in a light bulb factory in a world controlled by light. 6 minutes.

"Kahanikar, The Storyteller," India: A narrative of the relationship between Nirmala and her grandfather, who struggles to recall the details of her favorite story. 1 minute.

"Extinction of the Saber-Toothed Housecat," United States: A fanciful tale about the last moments of one of Earth's littlest known creatures. 3.5 minutes.

"Hello, I Like You," United States: Stop motion transforms inanimate objects into playful, choreographed dance. 2 minutes.

"The Girl and the Fox," United States: Ilona is a 9-year-old girl living in the wilderness who tracks down a strange creature. 5 minutes.

"The Dancer," United States: A documentary about an orphan shows shades of "Slumdog Millionaire" as it revels in the bustling colors, sounds, tastes and textures of India. 11 minutes.

"Dripped," France: Tells the story of an art thief who literally absorbs the masterpieces he steals. 9 minutes.

"Maximum Boost," Switzerland: A live action short in which Remo and his grandmother blast off on a journey to the moon. 5 minutes.

"The Maker," Australia: A glass-eyed puppet is constructing a look-alike companion, while the sands drain away in an hour glass. 5 minutes.

"Bunce," United Kingdom: A live action comedy by comedian Stephen Fry about a British boarding school. 12 minutes.

Other shorts are "L'aube" and "India."

kathy.lauer@mcall.com

610-778-2235

THE CHILDREN'S FILM SERIES

-- What: Nearly 60 children's films will be screened in a free series, part of the SouthSide Film Festival

-- Where: Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. 4th St., Bethlehem

-- How much: Free

-- Info: http://www.southsidefilmfestival.com

-- Schedule:

-- Wednesday: 6 p.m.: Red carpet premiere followed by screening of films in film festival block 3

-- Thursday: 10 a.m.: Weston Woods block 1; 11:30 a.m.: film festival block 1; 1 p.m.: Weston Woods block 2; 2:30 p.m.: film festival block 2

-- Friday: 10 a.m.: Weston Woods block 3; 11:30 a.m.: film festival block 3; 1 p.m.: Weston Woods block 1; 2:30 p.m.: film festival block 1

-- Saturday: 10 a.m.: Weston Woods block 2; 11:30 a.m.: film festival block 2; 1 p.m.: Weston Woods block 3; 2:30 p.m.: film festival block 3

___

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