International children’s film festival is a sweet success

Images has been running the International Family Film Series on the third Saturday of every month, but the particular collection of films known as the “Party Mix” that was played this past week was full of especially funny and world-renowned films that are well worth your time. These nine short films from the New York International Children’s Film Festival will both warm your heart and give you a good laugh.

The first film is a French film called Oktapodi. The two main characters are adorable computer-animated octopodes who fall in love and are then ripped apart as one almost becomes someone’s meal. The action that ensues is charming, and I found that the film certainly lived up to its 2009 Oscar nomination. Second is a clever film made in the U.S. called Western Spaghetti. Using stop-motion animation to depict how to make spaghetti out of regular household items, the short is cool to watch but just that: short and lacking a story.

A Canadian film followed suit, but had a stronger message. The Battle of Nature uses an intense soundtrack and harsh graphics to show how a world destroyed by mankind may have some hope left in the form of environmental friendliness. The shortest film of the bunch was next, but it certainly provided for some laughs. The U.K. film A Film About Poo is (as it sounds) a music video about how to poo and what you should and should not do with your excretions. The film comes complete with a catchy song that makes any loo look fun.

Another French film entitled French Roast was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Film last year. The story follows a tense businessman who orders coffee at a Parisian café and then realizes he cannot pay. To avoid the wrath of the busy waiter he continues to order coffee for the rest of the afternoon and comes across several odd characters, including a smelly homeless man and a sleepy old woman with wads of cash. This short is well-made and has a great storyline.

The next film, titled Chicken Cowboy, was a favorite with the kids. Made in the U.S., the story follows a nervous chicken who gets challenged to an Old West-style duel. Made by award-winning NYU student Stephen Neary, “the film with the chicken,” as described by the little girl sitting behind me, is cute and funny.

A Canadian film Runaway is next but was not my favorite. Described on the flyer as “a cartoon metaphor for capitalism gone amok,” the short has heavy social undertones about class struggle. While some parts are comical, overall the film is pretty violent and not exactly my type of children’s movie.
The final two films of the series are both longer than the rest and also very successful. Veeti and the Beanstalk from Finland is a stop-motion film that also uses other forms of media to create a collage-like visual effect. The story begins on a far more meaningful level than any of the other films: Stuck with a mother who is paralyzed by grief and can do nothing but flood the house with her tears, Veeti is left with only his bean pot and his dreams to cope with all of the emotions of the death of his father. A fair warning: I was crying and it is only 13 minutes long.

Last but not least was Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, which ended up being my favorite film. Wallace becomes distracted from his bakery by the Bake-o-Lite girl, whom he is smitten with. His love is blind, however, and it is up to Gromit to make Wallace realize that his “honey-bun” may not be as sweet as she seems. I was thoroughly entertained by the short, which was packed with action and British humor and proved itself worthy of its 2010 Oscar nomination.

Combined, the films lasted just over an hour, were highly entertaining and were worth the time for people of all ages. The series will be playing again Thursday at 3:30 p.m., so I recommend taking the time to have a good laugh, refresh your pooping knowledge and hear lots of baking puns.

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