My First Film Fest is the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s new program that aims to bring the excitement and vibrancy of the festival experience to young movie lovers. The festival, which takes place November 3-8, will also feature goodie bags, giveaways, and free educational screenings of films that promote cultural awareness and diversity.
All kids remember the first movie they ever saw or the first time they went to a movie theater. Now, the Film Society wants them to remember their first film festival. This November, we’ll present the inaugural edition of what will hopefully be an annual tradition: a six-day festival that promises to be the fall’s biggest event for young filmgoers.
“There is nothing more rewarding than sharing our love of movies with a new generation of kids and teens,” said Film Society Associate Director of Programming Florence Almozini. “This lineup will take them beyond the multiplex, from international cinema to silent films, and everything in between.”
Opening Night brings a special sneak preview of one of this holiday season’s most anticipated films, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, which follows the titular music-loving creatures in a heart-cheering and hair-raising adventure as they attempt to save their village.
The 13-film festival will showcase titles from the U.S. and around the world appropriate for children of various ages, as well as adults, including international gems from Hayao Miyazaki; Phantom Boy, the latest from the directors of A Cat in Paris; filmmaker appearances by directors Yared Zeleke (Lamb) and Émilie Deleuze (Miss Impossible); and the U.S. premiere of Girls in the Middle Ages.
The festival will also introduce classic movies to children of all ages with evergreen silent favorites by Charlie Chaplin (Modern Times) and Buster Keaton (Steamboat Bill, Jr.), as well as the mesmerizing fantasy The Dark Crystal, from the brain trust of Jim Henson and Frank Oz.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, October 20 with special family pricing! My First Film Fest is programmed by Florence Almozini, Rufus de Rham, and Tyler Wilson. Special thanks to Unfrance, Institut Français, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy NY.
Trolls (Sneak Preview)
Directed by Mike Mitchell and co-directed by Walt Dohrn, USA, 2016, 84m
My First Film Fest is pleased to present a sneak preview of Dreamworks Animation’s Trolls, one of the most anticipated comedies of the season. The optimistic, music-loving Trolls must save their village from the comically pessimistic (and Troll-eating) Bergens in this heart-cheering and hair-raising adventure for all audiences. Featuring original music from Justin Timberlake, and soon-to-be classic re-recordings of songs by other popular artists, Trolls stars the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Jeffrey Tambor, James Corden, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Ron Funches, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis with John Cleese and Gwen Stefani. A Twentieth Century Fox release.
Thursday, November 3, 6:00pm & 8:00pm
The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson & Frank Oz, USA/UK, 1982, 35mm, 93m
“Another world, another time, in the age of wonder…” Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s beloved 1982 film is a transporting fantasy—trailblazing in its puppet craftsmanship, and as timeless as a Brothers Grimm fable. After a mysterious crystal is damaged on the planet Thra, two races form: one, the gentle Mystics; the other, an evil race of grotesque, reptilian Skeksis, who draw power from the broken, dark crystal and spread chaos across the once-peaceful land. All hope rests on Jen, an orphan raised by the Mystics who must find the crystal’s missing shard in order to restore balance to the universe.
Ages 7 and up: features brief violence and scary images.
Friday, November 4, 9:15pm
Tuesday, November 8, 3:00pm
North American Premiere
Girls in the Middle Ages / Les filles au Moyen Âge
Hubert Viel, France, 2015, 88m
French with English subtitles
A group of girls and boys playfully reenact important moments from the Middle Ages in this delightfully modern and imaginative film about female empowerment during the medieval era. Narrated by a wise grandfather (Michael Lonsdale), the film features pivotal sequences of women facing and resisting male domination—from Clotilde’s acts of mercy to Joan of Arc’s legendary martyrdom. Wearing suits of armor, tonsured wigs, long beards, and flowing gowns, the film’s lively young performers playfully shed light on a neglected period of history while maintaining a spirited sense of the present.
Ages 11 and up: features brief explicit language and comic scenes of staged violence and peril.
Friday, November 4, 5:00pm
Sunday, November 6, 5:00pm
Yared Zeleke, Ethiopia/France/Germany/Norway, 2015, 94m
Amharic with English subtitles
Set in the rolling mountains of Ethiopia, Yared Zeleke’s remarkable feature debut tells the story of young Ephraim, who is sent by his father to live among distant relatives after his mother’s death. Ephraim uses his cooking skills to carve out a place among his cousins, but when his uncle decides that his beloved sheep must be sacrificed for the next religious feast, he will do anything to save the animal and return home. This coming-of-age drama approaches loss and grief with compassion and humor and was the first film from Ethiopia to be included in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language-Film Oscar. A KimStim release.
Ages 12 and up: features adult themes and realistic violence.
Saturday, November 5, 4:30pm (Q&A with Yared Zeleke)
Claude Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou, France/Switzerland/Italy, 1996, 35mm, 80m
French with English subtitles
The small world of insects never looked so big as in Claude Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou’s remarkable nature documentary depicting the comings and goings of those little creatures we either swat away or avoid like the plague. Over the course of three years and without any computer-generated effects, Nuridsany and Pérennou employed close-ups, slow-motion photography, and a lot of patience to vividly capture all types of insects as they play, fight, eat, work, love, and, simply, live. Snails, praying mantises, beetles, or spiders may not look any cuter under their microscope, but the vividness of each sequence suggests how similar their ecosystem is to ours. Print courtesy of the Institut Français and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy NY.
Ages 6 and up: vivid sequences of animals may appear frightening to some children.
Saturday, November 5, 1:00pm
New York Premiere
Miss Impossible / Jamais contente
Émilie Deleuze, France, 2015, 90m
French with English subtitles
Miss Impossible introduces us to a French middle-school student and her extraordinary, sometimes hilarious take on the world around her. Some would say Aurore (Léna Magnien) lives a boring life. But when you are a 13-year-old girl, and—just like her—have an uncompromising way of looking at boys, school, family or friends, life can seem like a merry psychodrama—especially with a new French teacher, the threat of being sent to boarding school, repeatedly falling in love, and the crazy idea of going on stage with a punk band of older boys. Adapted from Marie Desplechin’s best-selling Le journal d’Aurore book series, director Émilie Deleuze and newcomer Magnien breathe life into Aurore and her offbeat perspective.
Ages 11 and up: features underage drinking and smoking; mild explicit language, and discussions of sexuality and abuse.
Friday, November 4, 7:00pm (Q&A with Émilie Deleuze)
Charlie Chaplin, USA, 35mm, 1937, 86m
One of Chaplin’s greatest films, Modern Times bridges the artist’s natural gift for pantomime and his musicality and rhythm, a nearly silent film that emerged full force in the sound era. Chaplin plays a factory worker struggling to stay afloat in a world ruled by industry and automation, bouncing in and out of jail in between run-ins with an orphan gamine, lovingly played by his future wife Paulette Goddard. Cherished for its moving commentary on the Great Depression, as well as its countless slapstick sequences that only Chaplin could create, Modern Times has been revered since its release 80 years ago, each year demonstrating to new audiences the power of cinema in so few words.
Ages 6 and up: feature comic violence and mild drug use.
Saturday, November 5, 7:00pm
Tuesday, November 8, 5:00pm
My Neighbor Totoro / Tonari no Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1988, 86m
Satsuki and her younger sister, Mei, move to the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. There they find a habitat of magical creatures called Totoros, with whom they go on extraordinary adventures. Hayao Miyazaki’s breakthrough work explores the empowering effects of the natural world, as well as the need to experience freedom, mystery, and wonder in the face of a rapidly modernizing culture. With its warm animation and absence of villains or fight scenes, My Neighbor Totoro is perhaps Miyazaki’s most kid-friendly film, but is still a work of complex sensitivity in its portrayal of children coping with grief.
Ages 6 and up: features brief mild nudity and scary images.
Friday, November 4, 3:00pm
Sunday, November 6, 1:00pm
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind / Kaze no Tani no Naushika
Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1984, 117m
Subtitled and dubbed versions
Miyazaki’s 1984 epic adventure—adapted from his 1982 manga—endures for its delicately hand-drawn animation, visionary sense of place and humanity, and moral complexity. Set in a postapocalyptic world where prehistoric wormlike creatures roam and a war-hungry tribe of soldiers threatens to obliterate their existence, the film follows a gentle young girl named Nausicaä, who is the last hope for peace. Her quest takes her across wondrous landscapes, battling time as she tries to bridge the gap between man and nature. Considered Miyazaki’s first masterpiece, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is also a significant introduction to the filmmaker’s themes of feminism and environmentalism, which will resurface in many of his subsequent films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.
Ages 10 and up: features scary images and sequences of peril and violence.
Saturday, November 5, 9:00pm (subtitled version)
Monday, November 7, 3:30pm (dubbed version)
Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, France/Belgium, 2015, 84m
From Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, the creators of the Oscar-nominated A Cat in Paris, Phantom Boy is about a boy with extraordinary powers. Leo, eleven years old and bedridden, is an unlikely hero, who one day discovers that he can become invisible and fly across New York City. Thanks to this ability, Leo is able to assist a policeman in order to take down a mob kingpin, known as The Man With the Broken Face, who has taken control of the city’s power supply. Felicioli and Gagnol’s subtle hand-drawn animation style is a refreshing alternative to today’s loud and sleek computer-generated films, making for an impressionistic depiction of an iconic city and a humorous, wise vision of childhood. A GKIDS release.
Ages 8 and up: features moderate violence, some frightening scenes, and a sexually suggestive situation.
Sunday, November 6, 7:00pm
New Digital Restoration
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Charles Reisner, USA, 1928, 70m
Comic genius Buster Keaton turns in one of his most amazing performances as a college student who returns home to help his crusty old riverboat captain father (Ernest Torrence) compete with the far more successful, luxury riverboat owner J.J. King (Tom McGuire)—who also happens to be the father of Bill, Jr.’s sweetheart. To make matters worse, a cyclone blows through the area, setting the stage for some of Keaton’s finest stunts on camera and perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in all silent cinema, in which an entire house’s facade falls on the oblivious, great comic performer.
Ages 6 and up: features comic portrayal of violence and peril.
Sunday, November 6, 3:00pm
Tuesday, November 8, 1:00pm
A Town Called Panic: Double Fun
Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, Belgium, 2016, 64m
From the directors of Ernest & Celestine, A Town Called Panic: Double Fun is an over-the-top, visually inventive program of two stop-motion films featuring the hilarious, harebrained schemes of three characters—the clay-modeled, toy figurine-like Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. In the first, Christmas Panic, Cowboy and Indian’s ridiculous behavior prompts Horse to call Santa Claus and cancel Christmas, but Cowboy and Indian have another plan up their sleeves. In the second, Back to School Panic, Cowboy and Indian shrink themselves and sneak into their classmate Pig’s brain in order to win a prize for completing a special assignment. Perfect for all ages, these vibrant shorts will leave you wanting more from this slapstick trio. A GKIDS release.
Ages 5 and up: features animated violence and slapstick.
Saturday, November 5, 3:00pm
Where the Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze, 2009, USA, 35mm, 101m
Spike Jonze and cowriter Dave Eggers’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 illustrated classic is a wonderfully touching, dreamlike movie about childhood, an imaginative blend of wonder, humor, and melancholy that expands Sendak’s 338-word story into a reverent yet unique cinematic experience. A child of divorced parents, Max (Max Records) is a nine-year-old who wears a furry wolf costume and wreaks havoc for the attention of his mother (Catherine Keener). But when one of his tantrums goes a bit too far, Max runs away to a rocky island where seven monstrous creatures treat him like their king. Rather than rendering the Wild Things as entirely CG characters, Jonze had real actors perform underneath large, animatronic suits (from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) to craft an array of unforgettable, uncanny, and sympathetic characters. Featuring the voice talents of James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Dano, and Forest Whitaker.
Ages 8 and up: features mild depictions of sexuality and alcohol use and brief explicit language.
Sunday, November 6, 9:00pm