Get the scoop on the best family activities in New York.

And the Winner Is: Film Festivals and Screenings for Families

On Sunday, February 24, the Oscar will go to… probably nothing you’ve seen with kids in tow (save the nominees for Animated Feature Film of course). Very few blockbusters playing at your local multiplex are what you’d call little kid friendly. However, if you’d like to take in a movie that both you and your children can enjoy, you’re in luck. NYC offers a variety of film festivals and screenings perfect for the Not Ready for Academy Awards set.

NY Int’l Children’s Film Festival 2013
Various theaters and locations
March 1 – 24, 2013
Founded in 1997 as an independent film festival – for kids! – NICFF presents over 100 animated, live action and experimental shorts and features from around the world for audiences aged 3 to 18 and beyond. Outstanding selections this year include Meet the Small Potatoes, featuring animated, rock-and-roll singing…potatoes described as “Spinal Tap for the preschool set,” an Italian version of Pinocchio (actually, since the story was originally written in Italian, the Walt Disney version everyone knows should probably be referred to as an American version of Pinocchio), Strong, about Olympic weight-lifters, and a collection of short films specifically from a Girls POV. NICFF screenings always sell out before the festival begins, so get your tickets early, here.

Film Forum
209 West Houston Street
New York, Ny
11:00 am every Sunday from January 6 – March 31, 2013
Home video (and Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) have made it much easier to get your hands on practically any movie ever made and screen it from the comforts of your home. This is especially great when it’s freezing cold outside and the idea of wrestling a toddler into a snowsuit, just to wrestle him out of it again in the theater and stuff him back in it to go home, is no one’s idea of a good time. But seeing a movie made for CinemaScope and THX sound in your living room – no matter how big the big-screen-TV or how firmly the speakers have been cranked up – just isn’t the same as seeing it the way it was meant to be seen in a theater. Everyone who has only caught Singing in the Rain or Easter Parade or King Kong at anything less than bigger-than-life size owes it to themselves to, at least once, catch the flick in the theater. Film Forum offers families precisely that opportunity. Check out the complete schedule of screenings, here.

Film Society of Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, Ny
It began in November with a big-screen showing of The Sound of Music and continued with The Muppets, A Little Princess, Benji, Free Willy and An American in Paris. On the schedule for February are The Princess Bride and 101 Dalmatians. And unlike the usual movie theater choices of popcorn, hot dogs, candy and soda (try sitting still and paying attention after you’ve ingested all that, kids!), the Film Society offers an “indie lunch box” of grilled cheese sandwich, apple and hot chocolate all for only $6 when you present your ticket stub to the Indie Food and Wine cafe next door!

Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
New York, Ny
As part of their Just Kidding series, Symphony Space often presents family-friendly films. On Saturday, March 9, you can catch an Old Fashioned Double Feature of The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan. (Miss Piggy may never have won an Academy Award, but you can be certain she thinks she deserves one.)

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
Sony Plaza at 56th Street and Madison Avenue
New York, Ny
Not only are the robots and other out-of-this-world technological wonders free to play with, but also Sony Wonder Lab offers free movie screenings in their 73 seat, high definition theater. Shows frequently feature Dora the Explorer, the gang from Sesame Street, and Yo Gabba Gabba. For slightly older kids, Sony Wonder screens classics like Jason and the Argonauts and future classics like Hotel Transylvania. Check the schedule for more.

To Keep an Eye Out For Next Year:

BAMKids Film Festival
Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, Ny
For fifteen years in a row, the first weekend in February is a Brooklyn borough festival for pint-sized cinemaphiles. Animation, shorts and feature films share space with live performances for two days straight as kiddos barely out of diapers (ages 2 and up) view a cinematic selection curated specifically with their interests and attention spans in mind.

Plus, never overlook your local New York City public library as a great resource for kid flicks. Programs like Films for Tots, Films for Children, Preschool Films, Family Movies and Showtime offer everything from Winnie-the-Pooh and Cinderella to Tangled, Harriet Tubman and E.T.  Search by location, age and type of film, here.

Have you experienced all that NY has to offer in the way of family-friendly films and screenings? Let us know in the comment section below. 

– Alina Adams

Images courtesy of NICFF PR, and Alina Adams.

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