A Different Beauty: Sharing Film with Children

The Red Balloon, a film by Albert LamorisseI vividly remember the first time I saw The Red Balloon as a child. I’ve never forgotten the haunting, stark beauty of 1950s Paris, the unapologetic taking of the child’s perspective, and the power of images with minimal dialogue.

As much as I loved, and love, the work of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Mel Blanc, and Friz Freling, seeing The Red Balloon made me see film in a new way.

Once I became a children’s librarian I The Secret of Kells, a film from Cartoon Saloonwanted the children I served to have similar opportunities to experience the extraordinary beauty and power of films like The Red Balloon, Spirited Away, The Man Who Planted Trees or The Secret of Kells.

Unfortunately children’s films that are not commercially successful can be hard to find.

However, here in Seattle we have the extraordinary fortune of being home to Northwest Film Forum and Children’s Film Festival Seattle.

Spirited Away, a film by Hayao Miyazaki I wanted to find some way for us to share independent quirky films—and let folks know about the rich offerings at Children’s Film Festival Seattle. So I was very excited when Liz Shepherd and Northwest Film Forum agreed to share some of their 2011 Children’s Film Festival Seattle offerings with us!

Please join us at the Central Library between 2 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 28th and Thursday, December 29th for Children’s Films from Around the World from the 2011 Children’s Film Festival Seattle. (As it is in our auditorium, covered drinks and non-messy snacks are welcome!)

And don’t miss Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2012 from January 26th to February 5th at Northwest Film Forum.

-Steve DelVecchio

3 thoughts on “A Different Beauty: Sharing Film with Children”

  1. Thanks, Steve. I still haven’t seen The Secret of Kells, having forgotten to put in a request for it (which is now done.) The Man Who Planted Trees brings appreciative tears to my eyes every time. Anyone who doesn’t realize that the very best of children’s literature and film are just as appropriate for adults might check to see if they are limiting their joy and understanding when they think, “I’m too old for that stuff!”

  2. I loved the Red Balloon! My mother was librarian at a small rural library when I was a kid and they always put on a film series one night a week during the summer. When I got tall enough to reach everything, she let me run the projector. I can still smell the distinctive atmosphere of salt (tracked in by kids who had been at the beach,) faint dust, old paper, and whatever medium they used to print those reels of film.

  3. Oh, I loved “The Red Balloon” when I was a child, especially having spent a year in Monaco when I was young. I’ve shared both that and “The Secret of Kells,” but I’ve only read “The Man Who Planted Trees.” I didn’t know it was a movie!

    I enjoy looking for good films of all types to watch with my daughter, and other homeschooling children I have the pleasure of knowing. Miyazaki is one of the greats of modern child-at-heart films. I think it’s important to mention some of the good ones that have been overlooked from the past that are now difficult to find except from companies catering to collectors, video stores like Scarecrow that provide more than just mainstream film, and those rare sellers on eBay or Amazon who place a single item out that gets snatched up in seconds. Films and shows such as “Cities of Gold,” the two somewhat saccharine, but no less lovable, Unico films (“The Fantastic Adventures of Unico” and “Unico in the Island of Magic Toys”) by Osama Tezuka (the godfather of anime), “Phantom Tollbooth,” and “The Peanut Butter Solution.”

    I asked my daughter to list some of her favorite children’s/family films (non-Disney, non-Miyazaki), and she came up with a few (although I edited the list to not include some of the more adult/teen-focused ones). Many of these are in mainstream knowledge, but for many, the books from which some were derived, weren’t well known before the movies:

    The Secret of NIMH
    The Last Unicorn
    The Road to El Dorado
    The Lady in Water
    Faerie Tale Theatre series
    any film with Danny Kaye (including “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “The Inspector General,” and “The Court Jester”)
    Coraline
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder)
    The Dark Crystal
    Titan A.E.

    I know there are many, many more, and they’re failing to come to me except as brief images from my own childhood or from my daughter’s earlier years. Frustrating!

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