Children's Film Festival Aims to Reach Kid Viewers "at a Pivotal Time in Their Lives"

A still from Elena y Las Sombras, part of the ¡Viva Kid Flicks! shorts program.
A still from Elena y Las Sombras, part of the ¡Viva Kid Flicks! shorts program. Courtesy of the Coral Gables Art Cinema
Parents are always looking for safe, fun, and educational experiences for their children. This weekend, they'll find all three at the sixth annual Miami International Children’s Film Festival happening November 2 through 4 at the Coral Gables Art Cinema.

“What we want to do is entertain children of all ages, and families and adults. We want them to have a wonderful time yet we also want to teach,” says Midge Blumberg-Krams, board member at the Coral Gables Art Cinema and director of its Children and Family Program. “A lot of the themes [this year] are about non-bullying and seeing cultures from other countries to promote tolerance. In this environment globally, it is a wonderful time for what we do.”

The festival consists of seven films, a free party, and two film-related workshops, where kids can make their own movie poster or paint a favorite film character. Curated in partnership with the New York International Children’s Film Festival, the program at Coral Gables Art Cinema includes three feature-length films and four shorts blocks.

Last year’s festival had a Girls’ POV shorts program. This year, the festival curated a “Boys Beyond Boundaries” shorts block, focusing on the diversity of boyhood experiences and identities. The theater’s co-executive director Brenda Moe explains why the boy-focused shorts program is especially important this year.

“There are topics on dealing with differences, especially in how masculinity can look different. This is such an important concept to have because #MeToo is driven by toxic masculinity, and [we need to] give boys the latitude in their lives that women have,” she says. “I can be strong and forceful, but a man doesn’t have the latitude to have feminine qualities. To put that in front of young people at a pivotal time in their lives and in a safe environment where they can talk about it with their families is important.”

Blumberg-Krams adds, “I think it’s time that a whole family get together and see…how things should be or could be, all possibilities... It’s very timely with #MeToo issues and to just give them exposure so they can have more understanding of what’s going on.”

The festival will also include a Spanish language shorts program titled ¡Viva Kid Flicks! Moe says that inclusion and diversity are the festival’s aims in both narrative themes and program.

“Especially being in Miami, providing access to first-run entertaining films for kids in possibly their first language is critical to our mission,” she says. “As much as we are a cinema, we are a community organization and we need to serve everyone in the community... The other part is we see grandparents bring their grandkids to the festival. A lot of times, there are language barriers so it’s great for grandparents to be able to have just as much fun.”

The festival runs over three days and at $5 a movie ticket, Blumberg-Krams says, it’s the most fun that Miami can offer this weekend. “It’s open to everyone: it’s very inexpensive and there’s something for everyone in the family, from 4-year-olds up to grandparents. We have music, dance, face painting, wonderful art workshops, seven fabulous films, and a wonderful and happy atmosphere... I think this will be our most extraordinary and exciting year yet.”

The Miami International Children’s Film Festival. Friday, November 2, through Sunday, November 4, at Coral Gables Art Cinema, 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 786-472-2249; Films cost $5; workshops cost $25; the party on the plaza is free.
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Minhae Shim Roth is an essayist, journalist, and academic.
Contact: Minhae Shim Roth