By Kathryn Dietz,  Executive Director, Filmmakers Collaborative & BIKFF Co-Director

Back in the lazy hazy days of summer I wrote the 1st of 3 posts about the Boston International Kids Film Festival, describing why we started it – to help kids learn to use the media so that it doesn’t use them, to empower them to tell their own unique stories, and to inspire them with great films from around the world.

 Still from the film “Ulises y los 10,000 Bigotes,” directed by Manuel Carames

Still from the film “Ulises y los 10,000 Bigotes,” directed by Manuel Carames

In this 2nd of 3 posts I would like to share how we are trying to accomplish these lofty goals. I write this from the center of the storm: the festival launches in just a few days (kick-off is Wednesday), and our small team is working furiously to finalize details. There are a lot of moving parts: 50 films, 5 workshops, 3 venues, and hundreds of people coming and going from all over the world. One director is coming from Mexico to show his comic feature, “Ulises y los 10,000 Bigotes,” while another is flying in from Istanbul, Turkey to show the film her students made, “What’s Below Us.”

Filming of "What's Below us," directed by Nurcan Sonuc & high school students

Filming of “What’s Below us,” directed by Nurcan Sonuc & high school students

We’re really excited about this year’s workshops! All of them encourage media skills and empower kids (ages 10 and up) to express themselves in creative and positive ways. We’re thrilled that Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is back this year (look forward to special guests in this workshop!), and we’re pleased to introduce Communication Camp, which gives kids who are masters at digital communication some tips on how to express themselves in person.

Still from Alexander Jackman's documentary about communicating with people with autism

Still from Alexander Jackman’s documentary about communicating with people with autism

Another new workshop this year is Creativity, Film & Autism. We happened to receive three excellent film submissions on the subject of autism this year – shorts from the Netherlands and Australia, and a documentary by a 14-year-old girl from New Jersey, Alexandra Jackman. We also met an inspiring 14-year-old boy from New York, Hugo Segal, who is autistic and has overcome a lot of challenges through the process of learning to create animated films. Both of these young filmmakers will take part in this workshop, and we expect a lively and inspiring discussion!

 Animated bust from "Hugo Segal in Film" by Hugo Segal.

Animated bust from “Hugo Segal in Film” by Hugo Segal.

While most of the films that we show are made by adults, we have assembled a two-hour block of films all made by kids, and they are really wonderful. One of them is “GhostBOSters Trailer,” a shot by shot remake of the original film trailer that is now going viral.  It was made by middle school students at Raw Art Works in Lynn, one of our festival partners; I can’t wait to meet them! The same goes for “Under Pressure,” a clever and dark comedy made by Asa Minter, through the Institute of Contemporary Art’s teen media program.


From "Under Pressure," directed by Asa Minter

From “Under Pressure,” directed by Asa Minter

We have showing several excellent documentaries this year. The first one up is “Annie: It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” a behind-the-scenes look at the staging of one number in this iconic musical. The award-winning director, Josh Seftel, will be on hand afterwards, as will one of the recent Broadway “Annies.” We’re excited to show this film on Wednesday evening, November 5 – the same night that the new “Annie” musical opens in Boston!

From “Annie: It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” directed by Josh Seftel

From “Annie: It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” directed by Josh Seftel

There are way too many wonderful films to mention them all here, so instead I direct you to the festival website:  Here you will also find the schedule and see how we have built in opportunities for networking (opening reception, Dinner with the Directors, lots of Q&A time, and a wrap party). This is one of the highlights of the festival for me: seeing young people with great ideas meet other directors, and begin to see how they can tell their own unique stories in a visual way.

When you’re browsing our website, please also look at the trailer from last year’s festival, which was put together by another talented teen, 15-year-old Ethan Proia. His mother contacted our office looking for opportunities for him, and when we found out that he could edit we immediately put him to work! Here you see him working with veteran editor Peter Rhodes on the trailer. Ethan also created the “cell phones off” bumper that you will see at the head of every block of films in the festival.

Ethan Proai and Peter Rhodes have fun editing together. (photo by author)

Ethan Proai and Peter Rhodes have fun editing together. (photo by author)

There is something for everyone at the Boston International Kids Film Festival, and it doesn’t end on November 9. One of our newest partners is EF Education First, a wonderful organization that leads learning tours abroad for high school students, helping to foster a sense global citizenship. At the festival, we will announce an exciting new opportunity for two lucky filmmakers!

We hope to see you there.

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