|Mountlake Terrace High School student Nicholas Terry makes his film directorial debut with Senior Prom this year at SIFF|
Two of SIFF‘s most exciting programs are the closely aligned Films4Families and FutureWave, both aimed at giving young audience members a chance to get to know quality film from both sides of the camera. Both programs have year-round components but get a special gloss during the festival, with films from all over the world, including our own backyard.
FutureWave’s focus in on teens and young adults. This year’s festival features nine feature films curated specifically with them in mind. FutureWave Features 2010 includes such films I Kissed a Vampire, an American made musical about teen vampires balancing budding romance and bloodsucking; New Zealand sci fi film about psychic twins Under the Mountain and Samson and Delilah, an Australian love story about two Aboriginal teens.
Of particular note in this year’s FutureWave features is Senior Prom, an improvisational comedy along the lines of Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman that was shot by local director Nicholas Terry, 17, and features his Mountlake Terrace High School classmates as actors in a seriously funny look at the drama and excitement of the senior prom, told in a series of intertwined stories by actors who are as close to the subject as one can possibly get.
SIFF Educational Programs Coordinator Dustin Kaspar says that the goal of FutureWave is to give young people a chance to see as much as possible of what’s out there, presenting films that anyone at the festival can enjoy but that particularly appeal and engage youth. He recommends Bilal’s Stand, an inspriring story based on real life by 25 year old first time director Sultan Sharrief; Turn It Loose, a documentary about the World Championships of Breakdancing, held in Soweto, South Africa; and Regeneration, a world premiere film that “takes a hard-hitting look at youth and young adults and the culture of apathy” featuring appearances by the likes of Howard Zinn, Mos Def, and Amy Goodman in an examination of why the current generation of youth are not more active and how to get them engaged, a film that seeks to be a catalyst for change for people of all ages.
The FutureWave Shorts program takes youth film a step further – these films aren’t just aimed at young people, they’re made by them. Young filmmakers use a variety of film forms – documentary, fiction, animation – to tell stories encompassing all kinds of different subjects, from body image issues to family dynamics to pollution to identity issues and much, much more.
Kicking off the FutureWave Shorts program is the always exciting SuperFly Filmmaking challenge. Partnering with Longhouse Media, SIFF’s SuperFly Filmmaking Workshop takes 50 young people from all over the country and hooks them up with experienced mentors to create short films based on a script by Peter Bratt, giving them a mere 36 hours from start to finish.
Another great aspect of the FutureWave program is the FutureWave jury, a diverse group of young people from the Seattle area who will watch all the films in the program and cast their votes for the best films in the festival, making their award presentation at the Golden Space Needle Awards. YouthWave jurors might be budding filmmakers themselves or they might just be kids who are very interested in watching movies. In either case, the young people on the panel must learn that while it’s easy to say “This is my favorite film”, it’s a little harder to find consensus with the whole group but once they’ve made their decision it’s always a chance to for a fresh perspective on what makes a film worth watching.
The Films4Families program presents children’s films from all over the world, suitable for the whole family to watch. Short and feature length fiction and documentary features include live action and animation. Among this year’s standouts:
Eleanor’s Secret is a French animated film (dubbed in English) about a seven-year-old boy who moves into his late aunt’s house and discovers that Tante Eleanor left him an entire library of classic books. Problem one: Nat can’t read. Problem two: since Nat seems disinterested in the books, his parents sell them to a collector. And that’s when the real trouble begins – the character’s in Eleanor’s books come to life only in the library and if left unread will disappear, taking all their stories with them. Nat has to join them to save them but can he make it in time?
White Lion uses actual white lions to dramatize a folktale in which a legendary white lion, a messenger from the gods in Shangaan culture, must struggle to survive on his own with only a young Shangaan named Gisani to protect him from the dangers of the wild.
A young Spanish orphan named Carlos manages a dual life as an obedient student during school hours and a member of the Spanish national junior team behind the back of nasty orphanage director Hipolito in Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime.
Other films include From Time to Time, a British story of a time travelling boy who discovers a secret that could change history forever; Princess Lillifee, an animated film from Germany about the fairy who rules over the magic land of Pinkovia; Turtle: The Incredible Journey, the story of 25 years in the life of a sea turtle; and The Family Picture Show, a program of animated and live action shorts.
This year for the first time Films4Families has its own youth jury, consisting of kids from Seattle area elementary and middle schools.
Every year, some of the best films in the festival happen as part of one of these programs. Whether you have kids or ARE one, there’s definitely a lot on screen for you to enjoy, but even if you don’t fit into one of those groups, you should definitely check these films out.