The kids have already seen The Force Awakens and you can’t bear sitting through another one of those Alvin and the Chipmunks pictures. But you still want to take the family to the movies over the holiday break.
The Coral Gables Art Cinema has you covered. The non-profit theater, located at 260 Aragon Ave., will host its third annual Miami International Children’s Film Festival Dec. 26-31, featuring a slate of 12 feature-length and short-film programs – ranging from cartoons to documentaries and including three Florida premieres – from various countries including France, Norway, Paraguay, Finland and the U.S.
The festival is the brainchild of Midge Blumberg-Krams, the chairperson of children and family programs for the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
“This is an offshoot of something we started doing five years ago: Screening movies aimed for children once a month on Saturdays,” she says. “Two years ago, we launched the festival, which took place over one weekend in October. Those were so successful that we decided to expand to a full week in December, when kids are off from school.”
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Although the theater has enjoyed great success screening family classics such as The Sound of Music (which sold out a matinee show earlier this month), the slate of movies being screened at the festival are all new. The program was curated from selections in the New York International Children’s Film Festival by Blumberg-Krams and fellow Gables Art Cinema board members/programmers Ben Delgado, Javier Chavez, Carolina Mayo and Myra Silverstein.
Blumberg-Krams, who worked most of her career as a school teacher (she taught first and third grades at Miami Springs Elementary) and guidance counselor, says she had specific criteria in mind when choosing which movies to play.
“I’m a licensed mental health counselor and I’ve worked with families all my life, so the movies first and foremost had to be age-appropriate, she says. “It was also important that the films have a message or a theme, an intelligent or moral lesson. They should be educational. But they also need to be entertaining. If it’s an animated film, the animation has to be well-done. We are looking for things that will teach children in a fun and safe environment.”
Some of the films, such as the Norwegian documentary Ballet Boys, about three friends hoping to be admitted into a prestigious dance academy, have subtitles, so viewers have to be old enough to read. Other movies, such as the 3D mythical fantasy Mune from France, will entertain even restless three year-olds.
The festival also includes two hands-on workshops for kids, one that will teach them how to make their own stop-motion animation film and another that will show them how to transform everyday items into musical instruments (see schedule below).
But the movies are the main attraction, and Blumberg-Krams says she’s confident her long career working with children has taught her how to seize young imaginations and attention spans.
“I’ve been around kids all my life, so I know how mesmerized they are by color and sound when a film is working,” she says. “You don’t see them running around the theater if you’ve chosen the right subject matter. And with this year’s festival we are broadening our base. We want to show movies that will appeal to older kids too – as well as their parents and grandparents.”
Here is the complete lineup for the third Miami International Children’s Film Festival. Each title includes an age recommendation. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children (up to age 12). A series pass is $50. Tickets for the opening day reception with food and drinks are $15 for adults ($12 for Gables Cinema members) and $10 for children (up to age 12). Advance tickets are available at the theater’s box office or visit http://www.gablescinema.com or 786-385-9689.
SATURDAY DEC. 26
▪ 10:30 a.m. Family Fun on the Plaza, outdoor fun in the theater’s plaza with balloons, face painting and other activities; free.
▪ 11 a.m. Kids Flix Mix 1, a selection of audience favorites and award-winning short films suitable for children ages five and up, chosen from the 2015 New York International Children’s Film Festival
▪ 1:00 p.m. Festival Opening Reception
▪ 2:00 p.m. Mune: This acclaimed CGI-animated 3D adventure from France centers on a faun who is assigned to keep the moon safe. (Ages five and up.)
SUNDAY DEC. 27
▪ 9:30 a.m. Family Fun on the Plaza; free.
▪ 10 a.m. Moomins on the Riviera: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Moomin comic strips, French Director Xavier Picard brings the Moomin family to wondrous life with beautifully designed backgrounds and a humorous storyline. (Ages three and up.)
▪ Noon Belle and Sebastian: Shot in the alpine panoramas of the Haute Maurienne-Vanoise region of France, this adventure centers on a boy and his dog who help guide people to safety when Nazi forces march into their town searching for Jewish refugees. (Ages seven and up.)
▪ 2 p.m. Enchanted Kingdom: Travel through seven distinct realms in the wildest continent on Earth, Africa, to discover the extraordinary miracles of nature. (Ages three and up.)
MONDAY DEC. 28
▪ 10 a.m.: AninA: A ten year-old girl is given a strange punishment: A suspended detention. (Ages nine and up).
▪ Noon: Satellite Girl and Milk Cow: A chronicle of the wild adventures of a boy who’s been turned into a cow and a girl trying to save the world from a scary monster. (Ages nine and up.)
▪ 1 p.m. – Stop Motion Animation Workshop: Children ages 6-12 will learn basic principles of stop-motion animation with a focus on printed materials, watch short films with a variety of stop-motion techniques and then create their own content for short films using magazine cut-outs, patterned paper, clay, and Lego pieces. Their finished work will be delivered in an electronic file for students to keep and share. Tickets are $25 (location is the Coral Gables Museum directly across the street from the theater).
▪ 2 p.m.: Kids Flix 2: Another selection of audience favorites and award-winning short films from multiple countries. (Ages eight and up.)
TUESDAY DEC. 29
▪ 10 a.m. Kids Flix Mix 1: Encore screening
▪ Noon The King and the Mockingbird: An adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep. (Ages six and up.)
▪ 1 p.m. Stop Motion Animation Workshop (see Dec. 28 listing above).
▪ 2 p.m.: Ballet Boys: Three friends audition for admission into a prestigious Norway ballet academy. Only one of them will make the cut. (Ages nine and up.)
WED. DEC. 30
▪ 10 a.m. Kids Flix Mix 2 encore screening.
▪ Noon: Hero of Color City: While a boy is asleep, his magical box of crayons comes to life and is transported to a magical universe; followed by a live Q&A with renowned animator Frank Gladstone via Skype. (Ages three and up.)
▪ 2 p.m. Landfill Harmonic: A documentary about a garbage picker from a slum in Paraguay who made musical instruments out of junk and started a children’s orchestra that traveled the world. (Ages eight and up.)
▪ 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.: Musical Instruments Workshop: The non-profit ArtCares For Kids will host two workshops for kids ages 7-10 that will teach them how to make musical instruments out of everyday items. Tickets are $10 to cover the cost of materials. The workshop will be held at the John Martin’s restaurant, located a block away from the theater at 253 Miracle Mile. Sign up in advance by calling 786-472-2249.
THURSDAY DEC. 31
▪ 10 a.m. Moomins on the Riviera: Encore screening.
▪ Noon: Belle and Sebastian: Encore screening.
▪ 2 p.m. Satellite Girl and Milk Cow: Encore screening.