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UH outreach program offers free screenings of family-friendly films
The Kids First! Film Festival at the University of Hawaii-Manoa is now 5 years old — a respectable age for a festival that serves children as young as 4.
As a summer attraction, it’s proved to have staying power, screening free movies for kids on the weekends during summer break, when inexpensive, entertaining and enlightening ways to beat the heat and keep keiki entertained surely hit the spot.
This year’s festival begins Sunday and continues for two additional June dates.
Kids First! is directed locally by Ann Brandman, who manages the offerings as an outgrowth of her work in communications and special projects at the University of Hawaii-Manoa Outreach College. She’s seen the program’s popularity grow, from small screening rooms holding 65 to the 300-seat UH Art Auditorium.
“It’s a film festival experience and it’s free,” she emphasizes. “I love the fact that we can provide a venue for these families, and whole neighborhoods of kids come!”
All the films in the local schedule are chosen from a selection offered by the “Kids First!” project of the Coalition of Quality Children’s Media. Brandman makes the selections after researching the films’ reception by coalition jurors (including adults and children) and at other festivals, and after personally screening each film under consideration.
KIDS FIRST! FILM FESTIVAL
Presented by Outreach College, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Where: University of Hawaii-Manoa Art Auditorium
When: 3 p.m. June 5, 12 and 26
Info: 956-9883 or www.outreach.hawaii.edu/kidsfirst
The festival presents films that children and entire families can view together, she said.
She’s enthusiastic about Kids First!
“It’s a seal of approval for quality film,” she said. “It’s a source of independent film. … It gets the word out.”
And Brandman, a former curator of the Honolulu Academy of Arts film program who has also worked as an independent film and video producer, has long been concerned with quality film.
Kids who are especially enthusiastic about film fare can sign up online to become jurors for the national program, Brandman notes, and along the way, participate in activities that will build their film literacy.
Accepting more than 300 films every year, Kids First! constantly sources new programming for its festivals. Films must have no gratuitous violence, no bias toward race or culture, no sexual acting-out, no behavior that might be considered unsafe, and in particular, must not condescend toward kids.
Films are ranked by age appropriateness, and the films progress each week from those for the youngest viewers to those with themes better grasped by older youth.
“I hope the films will stimulate parents to talk about these things after the films screen,” Brandman said. “For example, ‘The Paperboy’ is abut two different ways of life. … And then you have just silly things, like ‘Philadelphia Chickens,’ with music — swing, blues and B.B. King.”
SUNDAY — “The Little Engine That Could” (ages 4 to 9, 82 minutes). It’s a classic story of I-think-I-can moxie, in which an animated locomotive has to deliver toys to the real world. Features the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Lee Curtis, Corbin Bleu and Brenda Song.
JUNE 12 — “Shorts from Here and There” (ages 6 to 12, 97 minutes). Includes two animated features based on the illustrations of popular children’s book author and artist Sandra Boynton: “Philadelphia Chickens,” a kid-friendly music video of Kevin and Michael Bacon dancing with pigs and chickens; and “One Shoe Blues,” featuring bluesman B.B. King and enthusiastic sock puppets. Also: “Beans!” in which a kid has adventures while holding candy; “Slap Back Jack: High-Five Master,” a stop-motion classic in which a baseball player learns to high-five; “Murphey’s Shorts,” about a lad resplendent in new shorts; “Paperboy,” about a boy and a girl who exchange letters on a paper route; “Un Duelo,” a Mexican entry in which hummingbirds beef it out; “After Hours,” based on a “true story” about an overworked animator haunted by one of his characters, and more.
JUNE 26 — “White Lion” (ages 8-plus, 88 minutes). Footage of real lions is used to portray the fictional tale, based on African legend, of an albino lion cub that became leader of a pride. The South African film is the first to use lions as “actors,” trained by “lion whisperer” Kevin Richardson.
Brandman notes that this film includes some scenes of lions hunting and eating that might affect sensitive viewers.
ALSO: JULY 24 — In a separate program at the UH School of Architecture auditorium, the Families of the World Festival will screen six 30-minute films narrated by children, each revealing a day in the lives of two families from Asia-Pacific countries. For ages 5 and up. Find out more at outreach.hawaii.edu/families.
MORE MOVIES FOR KIDS
» Regal Cinemas is offering $1 admission to select movies at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays as part of its nine-week Summer Movie Express.
The films, rated G or PG, will screen at Dole Cannery Stadium 18 and IMAX, from May 31 through July 27.
Movies screening in June include “Marmaduke,” “Despicable Me” (pictured), Charlotte’s Web” and “Gulliver’s Travels.” Movies screening in July include “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “Ramona & Beezus” and “Shrek Forever After.”
Regal’s Dole Cannery Stadium Theatres are adjacent to City Mill at 735-B Iwilei Road. Call 528-3653 or visit www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress for more.
» Wet’n'Wild is once again showing Saturday night movies on a 50- by 32-foot floating screen this summer, giving visitors the opportunity to float in the Hawaiian Waters wave pool or lounge on a deck chair during the films.
Dive’n'Movie presentations will show on June 5, 12 and 19, starting at dusk (about 7:30 p.m.).
Movies are included with park admission or a park pass. Information: 674-9283 or wetnwildhawaii.com (click under “Events”).
—Star-Advertiser staff / email@example.com