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Chicago International Children's Film Festival

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Chicago International Children's Film Festival

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival, now in its 15th year, runs Friday, October 16, through Sunday, October 25, at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, and Pipers Alley, 210 W. North. Tickets are $4.50 for children and adults, but various discounts are available for four or more tickets. For more information call 773-281-9075.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16

The Sweetest Gift

Tisha Campbell and Diahann Carroll star in a U.S. feature about racial attitudes, set in a small town in Florida. (Pipers Alley, 9:45 am)

Short films, program one

Short films from India, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Greece, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Short videos, program one

Videos from Romania, the UK, the U.S., Mozambique, Bolivia, and Austria. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

The Wind in the Willows

A fine mess. Terry Jones (Monty Python's Life of Brian, Monty Python's the Meaning of Life) aims to delight with this 1996 adaptation of the classic children's book, but the film has too much shtick and too little narrative rhythm: Kenneth Grahame's picaresque story of idyllic agrarianism threatened by the winds of change becomes a series of slapstick routines and over-the-top car crashes. Mole, Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad, whose cozy little world is invaded by a cabal of greedy weasels, are endearingly eccentric, and their romps have the surreal zaniness of a Python sketch--not surprising given the fact that Rat is played by a whiskered Eric Idle and Jones plays the hedonistic, car-crazy Mr. Toad. But the hilarity seems forced, like a costume party thrown by adults uneasy with their own notion of childish fun. The film's best joke, recalling the Pythons' subversiveness, will be too sly for younger viewers: Grahame's conservative ideology is turned on its head as the proletarian weasels of the book become overzealous Thatcherites. With Nicol Williamson and Anthony Sher. (TS) Jones will attend the screening. (Pipers Alley, 11:45 am)

Short films, program two

Films from the Canada, Spain, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Short videos, program two

Videos from Wales, Germany, Finland, the U.S., New Zealand, and Canada. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Short videos, program three

Work by young video makers from the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, and Denmark. (Facets Multimedia, 3:30)

On Our Own

A Danish feature about a prank pulled by three siblings. On the same program, the Danish short Hands Up. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17

The Wind in the Willows

See listing under Friday, October 16. Director Terry Jones will attend the screening. (Pipers Alley, 10:00 am)

Short films, program three

Short films from Norway, Canada, Denmark, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 10:00 am)

Short videos, program four

Videos from the UK and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 10:00 am)

A Joyful Angel

A Chinese feature about a five-year-old who finds his favorite TV singer in his kindergarten class. On the same program, Happy New Year, a short from the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, noon)

Short videos, program five

Videos from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, noon)

My Friend Joe

Solidly crafted coming-of-age story about a girl (Schuyler Fisk) who masquerades as a boy to perform as a tightrope walker, and the friendship that develops between her and a fellow teen in an Irish seaside village where the circus has pitched its tents. Fisk (daughter of actress Sissy Spacek) gives a beautifully understated performance as the androgynous hero, projecting toughness and vulnerability, boyish bravado and girlish sensitivity. David Howard's meticulously plotted script unfolds with deceptive ease, and British TV director Chris Bould coaxes utterly believable responses from his young actors, who deliver the snappy dialogue as if improvising; these are no suburban clones from the Spielberg factory. With Joel Grey as the girl's confidant, a circus old-timer who harbors his own dark secret. (TS) (Facets Multimedia, 2:00)

Short videos on conservation, program one

Billed as a "selection from around the world," though the four videos listed are all from the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 2:00)

Talking With Birds

A tale from Bulgaria about a little boy, his grandmother, and a young woman who takes care of sick and orphaned animals. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

The River Chao Phraya

A feature-length video from Thailand about two brothers who build a raft and set off for Bangkok to earn money for their mother. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18

Children of the Plains

See Critic's Choice. (Facets Multimedia, 10:00 am)

Short videos, program six

Videos with fantasy themes from Wales, the U.S., Germany, Finland, and New Zealand. (Facets Multimedia, 10:00 am)

Short videos, program seven

Animated videos from the UK, Uruguay, the U.S., Germany, Singapore, Canada, Finland, Australia, and Spain. (Facets Multimedia, noon)

Balloon Farm

Mara Wilson, Laurie Metcalf, and Rip Torn star in a U.S. adaptation of the children's novel about a stranger's arrival in a small town. (Facets Multimedia, 12:15)

No More Baths

An African-American feature about small-town kids protecting their secret clubhouse from developers. Director Tim Nelson will attend the screening. (Facets Multimedia, 2:15)

The Shrunken City

A U.S. feature on video about a tiny underground city inside a bottle discovered at a construction site. (Facets Multimedia, 2:15)

Queen of the Lake

A fairy tale from Germany about a princess turned into a swan. On the same program, the Swedish short A Fish Story. (Facets Multimedia, 4:15)

Short videos, program eight

Videos made or inspired by kids from the U.S., Croatia, Korea, Argentina, and Mexico. (Facets Multimedia, 4:15)

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19

Short films, program four

Animated films from Poland, Germany, Belgium, the U.S., Norway, Iran, France, the Slovak Republic, the UK, and Canada. (Pipers Alley, 9:45 am)

Short films, program five

Films from the UK, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Bringing Up Barbie

Two short videos from the U.S. about media images of girls. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

No More Baths

See listing under Sunday, October 18. Director Tim Nelson will attend the screening. (Pipers Alley, 11:45 am)

The Quest for the Key to Heaven

An animated musical fantasy from Sweden. On the same program, Ludovic: The Snow Gift, a short from Canada. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Short videos in Spanish

Videos from Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, and the U.S. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

The Father

An Iranian feature about a 14-year-old boy adjusting to his stepfather. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

Marketa's Menagerie

An hour-long video from the Czech Republic, about a girl who imagines her mother's suitors as penguins and monkeys. On the same program, short videos from Mozambique, the Netherlands, and Romania. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20

Ms. Bear

A story about a baby bear from Canada. (Pipers Alley, 9:45 am)

Short videos, program nine

Videos from the U.S., Greece, Norway, Mexico, Canada, and India. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

The Shrunken City

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Queen of the Lake

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (Pipers Alley, 11:45 am)

My Friend Joe

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Short videos, program ten

Animated videos from the U.S., Mexico, the UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, Finland, Bolivia, and Singapore. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Summer of the Monkeys

An American feature about a boy trying to capture the monkeys who've taken up lodging in a tree on his family's farm. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

Short videos, program 11

Videos from Romania, Great Britain, the U.S., Mozambique, Austria, and Bolivia. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21

Willa: An American Snow White

A retelling of the fairy tale, set in Virginia around 1915. (Pipers Alley, 9:45 am)

Children of the Plains

See Critic's Choice. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Short videos, program 12

Videos from the U.S. and Australia. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Summer of the Monkeys

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (Pipers Alley, 11:45 am)

Short videos, program 13

Videos about Africa from Ethiopia, the UK, France, Canada, Austria, and Mozambique. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45)

Mondo

A little boy's perspective on the bounty of nature and culture and on the importance of human kindness and dignity, this seminarrative 1996 meditation from France might have been more effective if it didn't include some annoyingly pointed social commentary and bald symbolism. In a largely dialogue-free story a nomadic boy called Mondo (Ovidiu Balan)--who exists in the moment, free from personal history and expectations for the future--encounters a fisherman who wants to teach him to read, a dove keeper, a magician, and an isolated, loving woman who lives in a modest yet luxurious house in a vast orchard. Mondo's easy smile and generosity captivate--he lives by his wiles, though he's not wily. But the grand ideas--asserted in bookend voice-overs, a messy climax, and a tidy resolution by writer-director Tony Gatlif (Latcho drom), for which he may be beholden to J.M.G. Le Clezio's source story--overburden what could have been a lovely and exalting tale. (LA) On the same program, The Bicycle, a Dutch short; producer Reimier Selen will attend the screening. (Facets Multimedia, 12:15)

A Joyful Angel

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

Short videos on conservation, program two

Videos from the U.S. and the Philippines. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22

The Ball

A Dutch-Belgian-German coproduction about a little girl who hides away in a junkyard; director Dany Deprez and producer-screenwriter Jean-Claude Van Rijckeghem will attend the screening. On the same program, Shipwrecked Do It Myself, a short from the Slovak Republic. (Pipers Alley, 9:45 am)

Dizzy, Dear Dizzy

A German feature about a ten-year-old girl who befriends a dog; director Steffi Kammermeier will attend the screening. On the same program, the Swedish short Nocturne. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

The Best Bad Thing

A Canadian-Japanese video about an Americanized girl who discovers her Japanese roots. (Facets Multimedia, 9:45 am)

Kayla

A Canadian feature about a boy who befriends a wolfhound. (Pipers Alley, 11:45 am)

Short films, program six

Films from Belgium, the U.S., Northern Ireland, and Germany. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

The River Chao Phraya

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Facets Multimedia, 11:45 am)

Short films, program seven

Films from Canada, Norway, the U.S., Denmark, Germany, and Holland. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

The Boyhood of John Muir

An American biopic on video about the Scottish-born naturalist (1838-1914). On the same program, the Polish short The Beginning of Spring. (Facets Multimedia, 4:00)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Children of the Plains film still (Critic's Choice).

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