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Animated Family Fun at the Film Festival

by Sandra Olmsted

According to Walt Disney, “Movies can and do have a tremendous influence in shaping young lives.”  And the 21st Annual Whitaker Saint Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), which runs Nov. 8-18, again offers Family Fun events and movies, some of which are FREE, it seems a great time to take the kiddies to the movies!

There are even prizes and giveaways! The films and event included in the Family Fun Sidebar* range from a program about animation, animated films, live-action dramas and comedies, and even a 3-D film. Some are made in America and some are from around the world, but all foreign language films are subtitled. The first time I took my godson to a subtitled film he thought I was kidding or crazy when I told him about the subtitles, but he really liked the film anyway. The best news is that all events and screenings at Washington University’s Brown Hall are FREE!

Tigger, Transformers, and Tropes: Telling Stories in TV Animation is a program about animation. Screenwriters Nicole Dubuc and Brian Hohlfeld, who are staff writers on Transformers: Rescue Bots, will discuss how the shows are created and show clips from Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Kim Possible, and Transformers: Prime, just to name a few. Children 10 and younger receive a chance to win a new Transformers: Rescue Bots DVD, and Showcase sponsor Chipotle will give away buy-one-get-one-free meal cards! A few years ago several of my students took their children to a similar event, and parents and children had a wonderful time. This FREE event is Friday, Nov.  9 at 7 pm in Wash. U’s  Brown Hall.

Three animated films are also part of the Family Fun: Le Tableau, Tales of the Night, and Zarafa. In this wryly inventive animated film Le Tableau, a kingdom is divided into the three castes: the impeccably painted Alldunns who reside in a majestic palace; the Halfies who the Painter has left incomplete; and the untouchable Sketchies, simple charcoal outlines who are banished to the cursed forest. Chastised for her forbidden love for an Alldunn and shamed by her unadorned face, Halfie Claire runs away into the forest. Her beloved Ramo and best friend Lola journey after her, arriving finally at the very edge of the painting – where they tumble through the canvas and into the Painter’s studio. The abandoned workspace is strewn with paintings, each containing its own animated world, and in a feast for both the eyes and imagination, they explore first one picture and then another, attempting to discover just what the Painter has in mind for all his creations. This Belgium film is in French and subtitled; it plays Saturday, Nov.  10 at 2 pm in Washington University’s Brown Hall, which means it is FREE!

Tales of the Night is by renowned animator Michel Ocelot, and the film extends the earlier shadow-puppet style of Ocelot’s Princes and Princesses, with black silhouetted characters set off against exquisitely detailed Day-Glo backgrounds bursting with color and kaleidoscopic patterns.

The film weaves together six exotic fables that each unfold in a unique locale, including Tibet, medieval Europe, an Aztec kingdom, the African plains, and even the Land of the Dead. History blends with fairytale as viewers are whisked off to enchanted lands full of dragons, werewolves, captive princesses, sorcerers, and enormous talking bees, with each fable ending with its own ironic twist. There are two screenings of Tales of the Night (Les contes de la nuit), the one Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in Washington University’s Brown Hall is FREE, but if you want to see it in 3-D, you will have to pay for tickets and see it at the Hi-Pointe Theatre on Saturday, Nov 10 at 2 pm. The 3-D print is subtitled, but the non 3-D print playing at Washington University is in English.

In the old-school Disney-style film Zarafa, a kindly old man regales a group of children gathered under a baobab tree with a story of the everlasting friendship between Maki, a 10-year-old boy, and Zarafa, an orphaned giraffe. Then Zarafa is given as a gift to the King of France by the Pasha of Egypt, and Charles X. Hassan, Prince of the Desert, is instructed to deliver the giraffe to France. Fulfilling a promise to Zarafa’s late mother, Maki does everything in his power, including risking his own life, to thwart the prince and bring Zarafa back to their native land. During the epic journey that takes them from Sudan to Paris, Maki and Zarafa pass through Alexandria, Marseille, and the snow-capped Alps, and experience many adventures, crossing paths with an aviator, a pair of unusual twin cows, and a pirate queen.  This French film is subtitled and plays on Sunday, Nov. 11 at noon  in Washington University’s Brown Hall.

The film has local connections; it stars St. Louis native Jilanne Klaus (23 Minutes to Sunrise), who, along with director Chip Rossetti and cinematographer Chris Benson, will discuss the film after the screening.

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