Chabot Space & Science Center Hosts a Film Fest for Kids

What better way to get kids thinking, commenting, comparing, and being inspired than to throw them a film festival? That’s the idea behind the Bay Area International Children’s Festival.



Festival photo courtesy of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival

What better way to get kids thinking, commenting, comparing, and being inspired than to throw them a film festival? That’s the idea behind the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival.

Back in 2009, co-founder Shelley Trott and Jim Capobianco were part of a group of parents at The Renaissance International School in Oakland brainstorming creative concepts for a school event that could double as a fundraiser. That’s how the first film festival started. Now in its eighth year, the BAICFF has since outgrown the school and takes place at the Chabot Space & Science Center.

“Our mission was to expose children and their parents to programming that they don’t have access to in the United States,” Trott said. “We wanted a cultural exchange, that value of exploring the world through cinema.”

With Trott’s background in film, Capobianco’s employment at Pixar, and help from a friend with film festival experience, they pulled off the inaugural festival at Allen Michaan’s restored Art Deco movie theater at the old Alameda Naval Air Station. “We used a very grassroots marketing campaign,” Trott recalled. That basically entailed school parents sharing Evites with their communities, resulting in attendance of 400.

Nowadays, Trott expects 2,000 people to attend the two-day event, which is still volunteer-managed and volunteer-run. Ticket revenue pays only for the operation, she said. At the festival, participants can view family-friendly movies from around the world, a mixture of issue-oriented films, and movies purely for entertainment’s sake. “There are different sets of values you’re exposed to when you view these films,” Trott said.

Kids aged 6 and up can take hands-on workshops in three types of animation: live-action pixelation, stop-motion, and clay. As part of the Green Innovation/Green Imagination Challenge, festivalgoers can screen films created by youths on the topic of climate change.

Perhaps most enticingly, attendees can get insider information and behind-the-scenes talk on filmmaking with presentations by Pixar employees and others. Last year, for instance, attendees got to see a work-in-progress screening of a film called Mermaids on Mars. This year, the movie will screen in its completed form.

There will be plenty of Pixar colleagues on hand during the weekend. A few highlights: Alex Mandel, who wrote music for Brave and other Pixar films, will teach a workshop on music for film. Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle, director and producer, respectively, of Sanjay’s Super Team, will also be on hand. This short film screens in front of The Good Dinosaur. Another Jurassic tie-in: “Each year a Pixar artist does our poster,” says Trott, and this year’s guest artist was Daniela Strijleva, a key player in The Good Dinosaur.

For retro film lovers, Carroll Ballard will be showing and discussing The Black Stallion, an iconic 1979 horse film based on the Walter Farley novel. Your latest generation of filly enthusiasts may find it more meaningful fare than Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash can offer.

Are young attention spans long enough for a full weekend of activities? Trott reports that, yes, there are diehards who stay for the whole event. But she suggests that younger children may prefer to attend the morning activities and go home for a nap, since afternoon presentations gear themselves to an older set of at least 7 years of age.

The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival takes place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Drive, Oakland. Tickets include admission to the center and access to all films and activities. Nonmember day rate is $25 for adults and $15 for youth. The member day rate is $15 for adults and $5 for youth. A nonmember weekend pass is $70 for up to two adults and two children. A member weekend pass is $30 for up to two adults and two children. For more information, call the box office at 510-336-7373 or visit www.BAICFF.com.

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