The hottest ticket in town this March is the eleventh annual New York International Children’s Film Festival. It’s expected to draw 21,000 people to its short-film, feature-film, animation, and live-action screenings; panel discussions; and opening and closing ceremonies. It all takes place over the first three weekends of March at Symphony Space, Directors Guild of America Theater, Cantor Film Center, and the IFC Center. “We see ourselves on par with Tribeca,” says Eric Beckman, festival founder-director (and father of three). “The mission is to help redefine what film for kids is about. The way the film business is in the States, it’s big blockbusters or nothing. There’s this huge audience of parents and kids interested in shorts, foreign films, a whole range of beautiful live-action or experimental films. We comb the Earth to look for great works and put together a first-class film festival.” In other words, “There’s never a situation where you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have to sit through Alvin and the Chipmunks!’ ” What a relief. The shorts in competition offer something for everyone, from tots as young as 3 to teenyboppers (and their parents). Kids vote on what they’ve seen, and this year’s jury includes Susan Sarandon and Gus Van Sant. Every film has been vetted for kids; the notes for Nocturna, a “stunning” animated fantasy about the mystery of nighttime, state clearly: “the shadow creature may be scary for very young children.” So go ahead and enjoy watching—and watching your kids watch—some of the 35 hours of impeccably curated films from Russia, Vietnam, South Korea, Denmark, Estonia, Mexico, and more. It’s a cultural education. If you can snag tickets.
2/29 to 3/16, times and venues vary. (212-349-0330 or gkids.com); $10.