July 11--It's all Steven Spielberg's fault. Because of him and that stumpy little alien with the glowing red finger I still have nightmares. You see, the first film my parents ever took me to see at the movie theater was "E.T.," and it completely traumatized me. To this day, if I accidentally encounter a photo or commercial showing E.T.'s wrinkly brown skin, bony fingers and piercing eyes I feel the fear shoot down my spine like quicksilver.
It's amazing the impact films can have on us, whether we're five or 75. They can transport us to far off places, make us laugh or cry and inspire us with stories of immense courage and determination. They can also scare the living daylights out of us.
As a parent, choosing which films to take your children to see can be confusing. Will it be too scary for them? Too violent? Maybe the story is just a little too difficult for a child to fully appreciate. That's where the first annual St. Louis International Children's Film Festival (SLIFF/Kids) can help. The festival, which is part of Cinema St. Louis and presented by PNC Arts Alive, is an extension of its big brother the St. Louis International Film Festival. It offers an assortment of film programs, camps and a workshop, geared specifically toward children aged 6 to 16.
SLIFF/Kids takes place July 26 through Aug. 4 at venues throughout St. Louis and the surrounding area. The festival will screen 14 film programs during the event's two weekends: July 26 through 28 and Aug. 2 through 4 at Webster University, the St. Louis Public Library, the Missouri History Museum, Washington University, Lindenwood University, Ronnies 20 Cine and Edwardsville's own Wildey Theatre. The Wildey took part in SLIFF for the first time last autumn.
During the festival's weekdays, July 29 through Aug. 2, kids can take part in filmmaking camps on live action and animation at the St. Louis Public Library's Creative Experience. And on Aug. 3, a full-day animation workshop for teens will take place at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The camps are free of charge. The animation workshop is $75 and all supplies and materials are provided.
The films screened at SLIFF/Kids include international and American-independent narrative features in both animated and live action and shorts programs. Some of the programs will appeal equally to all ages while others are designed to serve particular age ranges.
The festival kicks off with "Send in the Clowns: A Celebration of Slapstick and Silent Comedians"on July 26 at Webster University This includes a trio of classic shorts by some of silent cinema's funniest comedians: Charlie Chaplin in "A Dog's Life," Buster Keaton in "One Week," and Laurel and Hardy in "Big Business."
Matt Pace of the Rats and People Motion Picture Orchestra will accompany the Keaton and Laurel and Hardy films on piano, and live clowning is provided before, between, and after the films by Sammich the Tramp and the Knock-a-bouts and Circus Kaput's Oh My Gosh Josh.
The festival's other highlights include a sneak preview of the Disney animated 3D film "Planes;" the Japanese animes "Wolf Children" and "A Letter to Momo;" the international animated films "The Painting," "Moon Man," and "Lotte and the Moonstone Secret;" the live-action films "Alfie, the Little Werewolf," "Tom Sawyer and His Friends," "Believe," "Kauwboy," and "Standing Up;" and the classic "Return to Oz."
Several special guests will attend the festival. Joey Dedio, screenwriter and star of the feature film "Tio Papi" will accompany the film's screening on July 27 at the Missouri History Museum. Animator Michael Sporn, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, will present programs of his work on the evening of Aug. 2 and afternoon of Aug. 4 and offer an animation workshop on Aug. 3.
The full schedule is as follows:
7 p.m., Webster University, "Send in the Clowns: A Celebration of Slapstick and Silent Comedians" (recommended for all ages)
Noon, Central Library, "Alfie, the Little Werewolf" (recommended for ages 8 and older)
1 p.m., Lindenwood U., "Wolf Children" (recommended for ages 9 and older)
2:30 p.m., Central Library, "Tom Sawyer and His Friends" (recommended for ages 9 and older)
7 p.m., History Museum, "Tio Papi," with screenwriter/star Joey Dedio (recommended for ages 10 and older)
1 p.m., Wildey Theatre, "The Painting" (recommended for ages 8 and older)
1:30 p.m., Central Library, "Moon Man" (recommended for all ages)
3:30 p.m., Central Library, "Lotte and the Moonstone Secret" (recommended for all ages)
7 p.m., History Museum, "Believe" (recommended for ages 10 and older)
July 29 through Aug. 2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Central Library, Film Camp in Live Action
1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Central Library, Film Camp in Animation
7 p.m., Washington University, Michael Sporn: Personal Best, with animator Sporn (recommended for all ages)
10 a.m., Ronnies 20 Cine, "Disney's Planes" in 3D (Rated G, recommended for all ages)
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saint Louis Art Museum, Teen Workshop: Animation Drawing
Noon, Central Library, "Return to Oz," with Filmmaking Camps shorts (recommended for ages 10 and older)
1 p.m., Lindenwood University, "The Painting" (recommended for ages 8 and older)
2:30 p.m., Central Library, "A Letter to Momo" (recommended for ages 9 and older)
7 p.m., Washington University, "Wolf Children" (recommended for ages 9 and older)
1 p.m., Wildey Theatre, "Wolf Children" (recommended for ages 9 and older)
1:30 p.m., Central Library, Michael Sporn: By the Book, with animator Sporn (recommended for all ages)
3:30 p.m., Central Library, "Kauwboy" (recommended for ages 10 and older)
7 p.m., Washington University, "Standing Up," with production executive Jere Hausfater (recommended for ages 10 and older)
Tickets for the film programs are free to all attendees, both children and adults. No tickets are required for any show, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Early arrival is suggested, particularly for groups of three or more.
For the screening of "Disney's Planes" at Ronnies, attendees should go to the box office when they arrive at the theater to obtain complimentary tickets.
The Filmmaking Camps in live action and animation are free, but participation is limited and advance sign-up is required. Call (314) 289-4153 to inquire whether any space remains available.
The Teen Workshop in animation drawing costs $75 ($50 for Saint Louis Art Museum members). All art supplies will be provided. To apply, visit the Saint Louis Art Museum at www.slam.org and click on the "Education" tab; in the Education section, click on the "Adults" box and then click on "Learn more about upcoming Classes, Seminars, and Workshops."
Full details of the SLIFF/Kids program, including descriptions of the films, can be found at cinemastlouis.org. For more information on PNC Arts Alive, visit www.pncartsalive.com.
(c)2013 Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Ill.)
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