Saturday, February 5, 2011

BAMKids Fest- Good films, a nice feel, but thats no way to speak to kids

Early this morning I attended a screening of Moomins and the Comet Chase (2010) with Randi, John and Bully. It was our first trip to the festival that has been running for well over a decade at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Arriving at the BAM Rose cinemas we found it really was duded up with balloons, face painting stations, a kids cafe and a green screen station where kids could make their own music video. The place was awash in kids and parents and people from BAM making sure everything ran smoothly.

I was a little shocked at how young most of the kids were, but as Randi said, this is Brooklyn so its mostly families with younger kids.

It was for the most part a nice experience. The people were nice, the families well behaved . The movie was pretty good (A review will be coming shortly. Bully is insisting on reviewing the film and who am I to tell him no? After all he looks so dashing in 3D glasses)

For the most part I had a really good time and I plan on going back.

If you have kids and can go tomorrow (assuming there are tickets left) or next year I recommend it.

That said some thing happened and I have to take a minute out and get on my soap box to talk about something that left a really bad taste in my mouth.

From the time the screening was about to start until well after lunch something was bothering me, I had to think about it for a while, but it finally came to me.

The trouble with the day came with the introduction to the film, which was given by the woman who curated the films, frankly it was insulting to the kids. Of course they probably didn't realize it, but it really rubbed me the wrong way, they are kids and not idiots.

The woman came out and instead of talking to the kids as people started to quiz them about comets and other things related to the film and generally spoke to them in tone that saw them as something other than little people.

In all honesty I wouldn't have noticed it except that the film that followed the speech was a dark little film about a comet rushing toward the earth and possibly smashing into it. Sure its a kids film, sure it all comes out in the end, but some of what happens is rather dark. The second half of the film is all of our heroes trying to get home so that when the world ends they could be at home - it's a dark concept I don't think most parents would have knowingly put before their kids.

How could a woman that knew the kids were strong enough to see a film as dark as this speak to them so badly?

She even warned the parents that there was mild profanity in the title song by an avant garde artist (Bjork). The mild profanity was two uses of the word damn, that I don't think anyone would have noticed had it not been pointed out (and which was infinitely not as bad as some of the words used by some of the older children).

It was a surreal experience- one that I can't believe that the parents actually accepted with a straight face.

Okay, I'm an adult. I don't have kids, but at the same time I've been going to the New York International Children's Film Festival since it started and I've never ever heard anyone doing the introductions talk down like that to an audience (even at the little little kid films). At the Children's Film Festival they treat everyone as little people, adjusting their tone on a one on one basis.

As I said, I don't deal with kids on a regular basis, but come on.....

Give me the NYICFF introductions and attitudes any day.

There ends the sermon.

On the other hand, I really liked Moomins. and as I said I had a good time.

(A final note: On the basis of this years selections and what I've seen of past years the BAMKids Fest programs for the under 10 set, with most of the films being for those even younger)

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