Known as largest and most respected festival of its kind west of the Mississippi, the Northwest Film Forum will present the 2018 Children’s International Film Festival from January 25 through February 10, 2018. Geared toward children ages 2-14 and their families, this year’s festival will feature a whopping 168 films from 55 nations as well as hands-on filmmaking workshops and special events. If you’ve got a crew of movie buffs, scroll down for the scoop on this year’s fest.

“From on High.” This US premiere follows a Syrian refugee girl and a European boy as they combine religious forms to create a kite that represents freedom and peace.

Film Fest Basics

The Children’s International Film Festival will be held Jan. 25 through Feb. 10, 2018. Most films will be shown at the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave. Seattle, 98122) except where noted.

Admission to most public programs is $12 for general admission; $9 for children (under the age of 12) and seniors. Film Forum members get in for just $7 and festival passes will also be available for $180/General Admission; $140/Students, Seniors and Children (age 12 and under); $90/Film Forum Members. And festival passes include the Opening Night and Pancake Breakfast events! Workshop classes are not included with festival passes.

Screenings for groups of 20 or more are available weekdays and weeknights for $5/person. For schedule and educator information, visit the film festival’s Field Trips page.

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For complete descriptions and full details about this year’s festival, be sure to visit the Children’s International Film Festival website.

“We want children to come to the festival not only to be entertained by funny and fantastic films, but also to discover common ground, to build empathy and envision their places in the wider world,” said Festival director Elizabeth Shepherd. “Now, more than ever, we see the potential of Seattle youth to become compassionate and proactive global citizens, and we are certain that the films included in our programs will energize and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

“The World of Kim and Bob.” This US premiere is about the very close and imaginative friendship between a boy and a girl at the end of their early childhood. Will impending adolescence impact their friendship?

Special Events

Festival Opening Night
The festival kicks things off with a special presentation of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 film, Castle in the Sky shown at the Egyptian Theatre (805 E. Pine St.) on Thurs., Jan. 25, 2018 at 7 p.m. The film is a breathtaking animated adventure about a young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant who searches for the site of a long-dead civilization promising enormous power to those who can unlock its secrets. The evening begins with a costume contest for audience members dressed as their favorite characters from Miyazaki’s films.

Tickets for opening night: $14/General; $13/Seniors (65+) and Youth (20 & under); $9 SIFF Members.

Invention for Destruction
The classic film that you may not be familiar with, Invention for Destruction (The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) will be shown the following night at the Northwest Film Forum at 7 p.m. It’s a 1958 film created by Czech animator and designer, Karel Zeman. Fantastical machines, a deadly submarine and science put to nefarious ends all figure into the film, which seems, at times, ripped from today’s headlines. It’s also a visual experience like none other, with live action melding with animated imagery based on Victorian steel engravings. (Spoiler alert: there is also a happy ending.)

Hands-On Worshops
Hands-on workshops for kids will roll out on Jan. 27 and 28, with workshops in 360 filmmaking and mobile filmmaking taught by Northwest Film Forum education manager and lead youth teacher, Jonah Kozlowski. A talk and software demonstration on Jan. 27 will be led by British artist and educator Anne Terkelson, and will introduce older teenagers to the digital animation program at Arts University Bournemouth in the UK. In addition to these workshops, free interactive, drop-in activities will transform Northwest Film Forum’s lobby, throughout the festival, into a fabulous world where children can actively dream the future in displays that are part submarine (with a VR periscope!), part film set, and part special effects classroom. For a complete list of classes, workshops and prices, click here.

All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes with a Side of Entertainment
Sat., Feb. 3, 2018 marks the festival’s annual Pancake Breakfast and Short Film Smorgasbord at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption located at 1804 13th Ave. After the breakfast, at 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., there will be showings of Into the Magic, an uplifting, all-ages program of animated shorts at Northwest Film Forum.

Tickets for Pancake Breakfast: $15/General; $55/Family of 4.

Closing Ceremony
The 2018 festival will close out with the announcing of the winners of the Children’s Jury prizes, and celebrating with a surprise selection of outstanding short films made by international filmmakers. The event begins at 5 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 10 and is free to all attendees.

“My Body My Life.” This North American premiere follows the journey of 12-year-old Sabina when she has to be circumcised according to the tradition of the Masai Tribe, but is fully against it and fights for the rights of the girls in her village.

Feature Films

This year’s feature films include:

Castle in the Sky
From: Japan
Info: Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated, 1986, 124 min., in English
Intended Ages: 6 & up
Synopsis: From the legendary Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki, this rollicking adventure is about a young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant who falls from the sky. The English-dubbed vocal cast includes Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin.

Lila’s Book
From: Columbia-Uruguay
Info: Directed by Marcela Rincón, animated, 2017, 76 min., Spanish with English subtitles
Intended Ages: 7 & up
Synopsis: Lila, a character in a children’s story book, suddenly falls out of her paper world and ends up trapped in a place she doesn’t belong. And so begins this great adventure

Cloudboy
From: Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium & Norway
Info: Directed by Mekeminne Clinkckspoor, 2017, 77 min., Dutch, Swedish and Sami with English subtitles.
Intended Ages: 9 & up
Synopsis: This West Coast premiere is about a twelve-year-old city boy, Niilas who has been living with his father for as long as he can remember and barely knows his Swedish mother. But this summer, Niilas has to travel to Lapland where his mother and her new family live amongst the Sami.

Treasure
From: Mexico
Info: Directed by María Novaro, 2017, 95 min., Spanish with English subtitles
Intended Ages: 8 & up
Synopsis: This Seattle premiere, co-presented with the Seattle Latino Film Festival, is about seven-year-old Dylan (who has just moved to the Pacific coastal village of Barra de Potosí in Mexico) and believes he can talk his new friends into finding a lost treasure left in a cave, 400 years ago, by British privateer Sir Francis Drake.

“The Unicorn.” In this West Coast premiere, see what happens when a little king, walking in the forest of his little kingdom, spies an extraordinary creature, white as snow and fast as the wind.

Scrumptious Shorts

Many of this year’s short films have been divided up into various categories. To read descriptions of each of the films presented, visit the Children’s International Film Festival website.

Trésors Cachés
Date: Sat., Feb. 10, 2018 at 3 p.m.
Appropriate For: All Ages (60 min.)
Synopsis: Indulge your love of the French language and vibrant animation in this jewel box filled with animation.

High Flyers
Dates & Times: Sat. Jan. 27 and Feb. 10, 2018 at 11 a.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 2 & older (70 min.)
Synopsis: Spread your wings and soar through the air! This program is filled with vibrant colors and happy endings.

Tall Trees, Big Sky and Me
Date & Time: Sun., Feb. 4 at 11 a.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 7 & older (64 min.)
Synopsis: Peer up at a canopy of trees and dip your toes in a cool stream during these films about outdoor adventures with friends and family.

Into the Magic
Dates & Times: Wed., Jan. 31 at 10:30 a.m.; Sat. Feb. 3, 2018 at 10:30 & 11 a.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 6 & older (70 min.)
Synopsis: These animated films celebrate times when special places and powers are revealed, out of the blue.

“The Wind in the Reeds.” This West Coast premiere follows the story of Eliette who lives in a country where music has been banned by the king. See what happens when he makes friends with a minstrel who has had his instruments confiscated and together they lead a rebellion against tyranny.

Caleidoscopio De Sueños
Date: Sat., Feb. 3, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 6 & older (60 min.)
Synopsis: These films from Spain, Mexico and Argentina will fill up your senses with color, light, sound and the beautiful music of the Spanish language.

Dream Chasers
Dates & Times: Sat., Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. and Wed., Jan. 31, 2018 at 1 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 8 & older (76 min.)
Synopsis: Who says being a kid is easy? The young people in these films must overcome all kinds of challenges, big and small, to follow their dreams.

Tales Beyond Belief
Dates & Times: Sun., Jan. 28 at 3:30 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 3, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 8 & older (77 min.)
Synopsis: Colors are vivid and lessons are timeless in this collection of animated films exploring myths from around the globe.

House of Memory
Dates & Times: Sun., Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 3, 2018 at 1 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 8 & older (71 min.)
Synopsis: Feast your eyes and indulge your senses in a glorious banquet of international animation.

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” This West Coast premiere is based on the classic children’s book. The gorgeously hand-drawn film follows the adventures of siblings and their pet dog as they go on an all-day, outdoor adventure in search of bears.

Planet Wise
Dates & Times: Sun., Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 4, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 8 & older (66 min.)
Synopsis: It’s up to us all to save our home, Planet Earth.

Push Play
Date: Sun., Jan. 28, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 9 & older (68 min.)
Synopsis: At Northwest Film Forum and around the world, young people are making movies that will make you think and will amaze you with artistry. Celebrate how youth filmmakers dream the future!

Out Of This World
Dates & Times: Sun., Jan. 28 at 11:30 a.m. and Wed., Jan. 31, 2018 at 3 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 9 & older (77 min.)
Synopsis: In this program of animated and live action shorts, everything is up for grabs—even the laws of gravity!

Family Days
Dates & Times: Sat., Jan. 27 at 3:30 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 10, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.
Ages 9 & older (83 min.)
Synopsis: We all need someone to watch over us. These films share important lessons about love, understanding and growing up.

“Waikiki.” See what happens in this Seattle premiere when late at night the cakes come alive in the bakery and a friendship blooms that love is too sweet to limit.

Indigenous Showcase
Dates & Times: Sat., Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 9 & older (53 min.)
Synopsis: This program tells stories by Indigenous filmmakers throughout North America.

Never Say Never
Date: Sat., Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m. and Wed., Jan. 31, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 10 & older (81 min.)
Synopsis: The kids in these narrative and documentary films won’t take no for an answer.

Reel World Real Tall
Dates & Times: Sat., Jan. 27 at 11:30 a.m. and Wed., Jan. 31, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 11 & older (80 min.)
Synopsis: Get globally aware with documentaries from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

World Lens
Date: Sat., Jan. 27, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 11 & older (50 min.)
Synopsis: The films in this program are recent prize winners at the PLURAL + 2017 festival, presented by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration.

No Walls
Dates & Times: Sun., Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m, Wed., Jan. 31 at 10:30 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 3, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.
Appropriate For: Ages 12 & older (80 min.)
Synopsis: In these narrative films from Mexico, Iran, Tanzania, Australia, Spain, and the US, you’ll meet young people who must transcend expectations that limit them.

“Refugee.” This Seattle premiere is about a mother and daughter who use a viewfinder to look at family photos and hold onto the life they left behind when they were forced to flee their home because of the civil war in Syria.

Special Guests

The following special guests will attend screening of their films on the following dates:

Director Dagmar Seume will attend Wendy at 3 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 27, 2018.

Director Piyush Panjuani will attend 5 Rupees at 5 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 28, 2018.

Producer Robin Grey will attend the documentary Purple Dreams at 3 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 28, 2018

Seattle Animator William Jarcho and Puerto Rican filmmaker Julio Benito Cabrera will be in attendance at the screening of the short film program, Planet Wise on Sun., Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. Jarcho will also attend a screening of the program on Sun., Feb. 4, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Halima Lucas (Amelia’s Closet) will be in attendance at the screening of the shorts program, Never Say Never at 1:30 p.m. Sat., Jan. 27, 2018.

British Educator Anne Terkleson, Production Manager, Arts University Bournemouth (UK), will attend the festival and teach a workshop for high school students on digital animation on Sat., Jan. 27, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.

Children’s International Film Festival
Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98122
Online: childrensfilmfestivalseattle.org

Dates: Jan. 25-Feb. 10, 2018
Ticketschildrensfilmfestivalseattle.org/copy-of-tickets

Are you planning on attending this year’s Children’s International Film Festival? What are you and your kids most excited to see? Tell us in the comments below!

— Jeffrey Totey

All photos courtesy of the Children’s International Film Festival.