A graffiti dog that comes to life, a young boy who raises three orphan pelicans, and a mole who dreams of becoming a professional football player: these are just a few characters you’ll meet at Ukraine’s Children KinoFest.
The seventh annual Children KinoFest runs from 29 May to 7 June, free of charge. For the first time, the festival will be hosted online at online.childrenkinofest.com, in light of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. The festival introduces Ukrainian children and teens to the best films from across Europe or ones created in co-production with Europe.
“It’s quite easy to find Hollywood films for kids, but our cinemas lack representation of independent and diverse cinematography from around the world, so our goal is to fill in this gap,” festival organisers said.
Though the festival looks different this year, since it has had to make the online transition, the organisers say they’ve kept the overall spirit and format of the festival the same.
In the international competition part of the festival, seven films are vying for the title of ‘Best Film’. After watching the movies, the audience evaluates them and collectively determines the winner.
Among these films is Ukraine’s Foxter & Max, directed by Anatoliy Mateshko. In the movie, a graffiti dog that Max painted comes to life. But it turns out, what he used to create the dog, Foxter, wasn’t regular spray paint — it was nano paint, which is why Foxter came to life as a super-dog made of nanobots. The film follows the dynamic duo who are being chased by criminals that seem to stop at nothing to seize this powerful nanotechnology.
Besides the international program of the festival, there’s also a nationwide Children’s Short Film Competition, which is currently in its fourth year, with entries from young cinematographers between 7 and 14 years old from across Ukraine. This year, more than 200 films were entered, and this was narrowed down to 10 finalists. A professional jury will select the winners in two age categories (7-10 and 11-14), plus there’s an Audience Choice Award.
“We also see our mission in the development of media literacy and cognitive thinking in our young audience,” organisers said, adding that this is why they launched the children’s competition a few years ago.
The work of French illusionist and film director Georges Méliès also makes an appearance at this year’s festival. Born in 1861, Méliès was a pioneer in cinematographic special effects. You can see some of these effects in action in a collection of films by the director, screened as part of Children KinoFest.
Another festival highlight is the screening of The Stolen Princess — an animated film made in Ukraine that won last year’s Children KinoFest. To mark Children’s Day, the film will be available on 1 June until the end of the festival. In the movie, Ruslan, an artist who dreams of becoming a knight, falls in love with Mila, without realising she’s the King’s daughter. But, as what happens in fairy tales, an evil sorcerer kidnaps Mila, and Ruslan sets out to rescue her and prove that his love is stronger than magic.
Films from outside Ukraine have been dubbed in Ukrainian, and some have subtitles for those with hearing impairments. To take part in Children KinoFest, register at online.childrenkinofest.com/login from 29 May. Registration will give you access to the films, plus you’ll have the chance to vote for your favourite flicks.