For the Kids, By the Kids: Santa Barbara Kids' Film
by Gail Kearns
Children of all ages enjoyed a variety of films and seminars, where kids
reigned, at the 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Kids' Film Fest, this past
weekend (Oct. 2-4), where "The Wind in the Willows" directed by Terry
Jones of Monty Python fame kicked off the fest on Friday evening at the
Lobero Theatre. On Saturday the line-up included "Imuhar: A Legend"
directed by Noah Edelson and beautifully photographed by Jacques
Dubuisson. The film, shot entirely on location in Niger, relates the
story of an eleven-year-old boy who travels from Paris to Nigeria to
explore the fascinating world of his people, the Toureg, a nomadic
culture rarely seen on film.
Also on Saturday, audiences screened "Splitsville," directed by Lynn
Hamrick and starring David Berry, Grady Hutt ("Groundhog Day"),
Stephanie Sawyer ("The River Wild"), and Christopher Lambert
("Highlander"), among others. Lambert was also an exec producer of the
film. "Splitsville" is a heartfelt comedy about a fifth grader named
James (David Berry) who, while coping with his parent's divorce, causes
havoc in his entire town.
On Sunday, "The Adventures of Pipi," an animated film directed by
Japanese filmmaker Shinichi Nakada, showed to a rapt audience. Based on
the children's classic, "Tobenai Hotaru," by Akimi Ozawa, "Pipi" is
about a young firefly with damaged wings who discovers the strength in
his heart and learns to overcome his handicaps. The "save our planet"
theme of the film drew a round of applause as the director, who traveled
to the fest from Japan, took a royal seat following the film's showing
for questions from viewers.
The fest closed on Sunday evening with "Dancing on the Moon," a charming
coming of age film directed by Canadian Kit Hood. In it,
thirteen-year-old Madeline (Nathalie Vansier) gets her first real
understanding of the adult world.
Seminars over the three-day fest included a hands on filmmaking workshop
where a group of pre-selected kids, chosen for their submitted movie
ideas, participated with industry professionals who served as mentors.
Results of this workshop will become known in twelve months, when the
films are viewed at the 3rd Annual Santa Barbara Kids' Film Fest. There
was also a seminar entitled "Kids on Acting" where a panel of eight
young, experienced movie actors shared their experiences working in the
film industry. The panel included David Berry ("Splitsville"), Jake
Lloyd (soon to be seen portraying the young Anakin Skywalker - later to
become Darth Vader - in "Star Wars Episode One"), Vanessa Lee Chester
("Lost World"), Juan Diego ("Omba Mokumba"), Camilla Belle ("A Little
Princess"), Erika Lea Christenson ("Leave It To Beaver"), Stephanie
Sawyer ("The River Wild") and Nicholas Pappone ("Outbreak").
All in all, the three-day fest, known as the only film fest in America
that's for kids, by kids, presented audiences with quality material and
exceptional visual storytelling. Right on!