There are plenty of things you don’t get to do when you’re a kid. You’re not allowed to sit in the front seat. You don’t get to stay up past 8pm. You’re not allowed to have ice-cream before dinner. Sometimes, you just feel like you’re missing out.
On the other hand, every once in a while, adults acknowledge your existence and make really cool things for you. Just for you. Like the cubbyhouse your dad made, or Disneyland, or jumping castles.
Little Big Shots is a film festival just for kids. With animations, films by kids, documentaries and shorts, the festival promises to show some of the best offerings from around the world to appeal to our littlest audience.
To find out what makes Little Big Shots tick, whoop and squeak, we have a chat with Festival Director, Chloe Boulton.
What do you look for in a film when programming Little Big Shots?
We look for films that not only appeal to children but also offer a child’s view of the world. Having a child protagonist doesn’t necessarily mean that a film is suitable for children, or even aimed at children. We try and select films that show a child trying to make sense of the world and processing what’s going on around them. That way, it is most likely that a young audience would find the film accessible and relatable.
Equally importantly, we search high and low for the most fun and hilarious films on offer and ensure that these create a balance with the films in our program that explore more serious themes.
As a children’s film festival, we also have to be very conscious of any classifiable elements (e.g. sex, substance use, violence, coarse language) in any of the films that we screen. When we apply for an exemption from the Classification Board, we aim to get almost all the films in our program exempt at the equivalent of a G rating, meaning that there are no age restrictions on most Little Big Shots screenings.
What is the Little Big Shots children’s jury? What do they do and how do you get to be in it?
The Little Big Shots children’s jury is a group of ten kids who watch and judge all the Australian films screening in the festival. The jury awards prizes each year to the best Australian adult-made and child-made films. This year, the jury decided on Franswa Sharl as the best Australian adult-made film and How Not to Get a Girl as the best Australian child-made film in our program.
The jury is made up of the ten winners on the festival’s film reviewing competition from the year before. Kids aged under 15 attending Little Big Shots in Melbourne are encouraged to submit a review to the festival. The ten best scribes will not only win a place on our 2012 children’s jury but also win a season pass to the 2012 festival and have their winning work published on the Little Big Shots website. All the details of our film reviewing competition can be found on our website.
Are you seeing an increase in the quality of film submissions by kids?
Yes, definitely. As technology becomes more common-place and easier to use, more and more kids are having a go at filmmaking, with some really wonderful results. This year, we’re screening 13 films made by kids ranging in age from 5 to 15 years, from right around Australia as well as Germany, Portugal and Mexico. Our youngest filmmakers created the (very!) short film Wizard Still and the Haunted House. It’s a wild stop motion animation using Lego men and other toys, narrated by the kids and following the adventures of Wizard Still as he navigates his way through a particularly haunted house. Gorgeous stuff.
Do you have a favourite film in this year’s festival?
It’s so hard to pick a favourite! For out-and-out belly laughs, I don’t think you can go past Ormie (Canada, 2009). Mobile (Germany, 2010) and The Story of the Mean Dragon (Canada, 2009) also leave me in stitches every time I watch them. On a more serious note, The Little Boy and the Beast (Germany, 2010) beautifully depicts how a young boy copes with recently divorced (and rather miserable) parents, and After the Shearing (USA, 2010) never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Was there anything as cool as Little Big Shots around when you were a kid?
I wish! Little Big Shots was dreamt up in 2005 by a Melbourne father who wanted something like the Melbourne International Film Festival that he could take his kids to. Seven years later, Little Big Shots now stands as the largest children’s film festival in the Southern Hemisphere and tours annually to more than twenty venues around Australia. It’s great to think we’ve given that opportunity to Aussie kids.
Little Big Shots: Melbourne’s International Film Festival for Kids screens at ACMI from Thursday 9 June to Monday 13 June 2011. See ACMI’s website for program details. To find out more about the festival, visit the official Little Big Shots website.
Little Big Shots: Melbourne’s International Film Festival for Kids is proudly supported by Media Giants, City of Melbourne, Film Victoria and Screen Australia.