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December 26, 2016 > The hills are alive with the sound of movies

The hills are alive with the sound of movies

By Julie Grabowski

Irish puffins, African princesses, bow ties, red heels, a stone named Clint, Legos, and stray cats all have their tale to tell when the Bay Area International Childrens Film Festival (BAICFF) takes over Chabot Space & Science Center.

Celebrating its 8th year with the theme Music and Movement, the festival is packed with over 60 animated, live action, short and feature-length films; special presentations and Q&A sessions with award-winning filmmakers; and hands-on animation workshops including clay puppets, stop-motion with found objects, and live-action pixilation with Foley sound.

The festival strives to expose young people and families to films that are being made all over the world, explore and share different cultures, and educate their audience about filmmaking. It is a step out of the mainstream, an opportunity to collect unique films in one place, most of which you wonÕt find in a theater or online.

Drawing from 300 submissions, the selected films represent 20 countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Switzerland, Croatia, Argentina, and Hungary, with almost half made by females. Films are selected based on quality production value, an interesting and compelling aspect, country of origin, length, and techniques used.

Film has become the predominate way to tell stories, says 19-year Pixar veteran and BAICFF co-founder Jim Capobianco. If we can show really high quality film and video in front of children, expose them to different cultures and ways of thinking, being exposed to that is an education in itself. He says kids are constantly absorbing information, and showing how different children live around the world can teach them to be more compassionate and build a more empathetic society.

The fun begins Friday night with a behind-the-scenes look at PixarÕs story process led by Capobianco. Pixar Story Artist Showcase: A Conversation Amongst Peers features six artists discussing their work in movies such as WALL¥E, Cars 2, and Inside Out. Opening night attendees will also get a sneak peek of festival shorts.

Capobianco says he puts the festival together like a story, playing with a theme to create a focal point. He will be joined by Director Carroll Ballard who is hosting a special screening of his 1979 film ÒThe Black StallionÓ for a Q&A afterward. ÒNobodyÕs making a film like that now for children,Ó Capobianco says, praising it as lyrical, slow paced, and beautiful. ÒItÕs not spoon fed to you in any way like most films today.Ó

Last years program gave attendees a look inside the process of filmmaking by sharing a work in progress called Mermaids on Mars. Director Jon Peters and producers Kat Alioshin and Nancy Guettier return this year with the finished animated stop-motion musical. Capobianco says the How Did They Do That? programs such as Mermaids and this years Oscar-nominated ÒSanjays Super Team with Pixar artist Sanjay Patel Òinspire children to go, whoa, thatÕs how these are made! And to be able to follow the progression of a film to its completion in the case of Mermaids he calls kind of a magical thing.

The festival will also feature five films made by kids including, Persevere: The Story of Wilma Rudolph, written and acted by students at Berkeleys Jefferson Elementary School under the guidance of teacher Lisa Rossi. Its so charming, and the teacher should be given the teacher of the year award or something, says Capobianco. That she got them involved in such an active and artistic way is a big inspiration.

The new Movement and Music series looks at these two aspects of cinema through films such as SHIFT, featuring Bay Area vertical dance company BANDALOOP challenging the boundaries of performance sites, and documentary Lets Get the RhythmÓ about the history of hand-clapping games. Michael Chiaravelotti will serve as the weekendÕs Òmaster of musicÓ with a group of dancers and musicians to kick off each program with some music and movement to get people energized for each event.

Capobianco believes there is a renaissance in short filmmaking due to easier distribution, variety of access, and the wide avenues of experimentation available within the form. While they have yet to see submissions from kids who have participated in festival workshops over the years, he says such a circle would be Òawesome!Ó But itÕs not all about turning kids into filmmakers.

Says Capobianco, However this festival can affect children and even their parents in a positive way, even if a child becomes a lawyer, doctor or business person, if thereÕs something about the festival that opened their eyes a little bit more about the world, or the art, to appreciate it a bit more, thatÕs a victory for me.

Tickets for the Pixar Showcase are $25; tickets are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. A one-day pass is $25 for adults, $14 for youth ($15 adult, $7 youth for Chabot members); a weekend pass is $65 for up to two adults and two children ($35 for Chabot members). Workshops are an additional fee. Call (510) 336-7300 to purchase weekend passes.

Bay Area International ChildrenÕs Film Festival
Friday - Sunday, Jan 29 - 31
Friday: 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Chabot Space & Science Center
10000 Skyline Dr, Oakland
(510) 336-7300
One-day pass: $25 adult, $14 youth; member: $15 adult, $7 youth
Weekend pass: $65 (up to two adults & two children); member: $35

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