The Reykjavik International Children’s Film Festival starts in cinema Bíó Paradís today, Thursday, March the 30th. More than twenty films will be shown, classics as well as new releases, feature films and shorts. Oddný Sen, project manager for film education at Bíó Paradís, says that one of the purposes of the film festival is to show children the diversity of life and make them realise that there are different role models out there.
Two of the short films shown at the festival have queer people as their protagonists; My Gay Sister tells of a girl who goes on a trip to Norway with her sister and her girlfriend and The Comet is the story of two refugees who have been persecuted for their sexual orientation and are trying to flee to Sweden. Comet is based on a true story and the lead actor, Abdi Aziis fled from Somalia because he was gay. Does Oddný think it’s vital for children to see queer stories told on the silver screen?
“Yes, we think so. It’s an obvious part of film education today to tackle subjects that are in the spotlight, besides it should diminish prejudice and bullying.”
In another films at the festival, Girls and boys, “traditional” gender roles are turned on their heads. Is that also a way to broaden children’s horizons and give them different role models?
“Absolutely. Films mirror a certain reality that changes all the time and we want to help give children different role models. It’s good for children to see that we are all different and unique in our own way.”
So you do think that films are useful as an educational tool?
“Without a doubt. I see it clearly in my job as project manager for film education for elementary schools and high schools that they are a powerful medium. Many of the kids who come to see the films we show in the program, where we screen films that are not based on the Hollywood formula,
“Films mirror a certain reality that changes all the time and we want to help give children different role models. It’s good for children to see that we are all different and unique in our own way.”
say that they think the films are special and that they have never seen films like that before. So it is important to teach children to read films. It helps them become more critical of computer games, formula films and things on the internet.”
Do all the films shown at the festival pass the Bedchel test?
“Maybe not all of them. We try to meet that standard, and are aware of it’s importance, but it’s not always possible.”
The Film Festival starts today and lasts for ten days, till April the 9th, how many films will be shown each day?
“It differs from day-to-day. On Saturday April the 1st there will be no less than nine films screened, but those who are interested can find the detailed schedule on our website.”
What is the main purpose of the festival and do you intend to make this an annual event?
“We want to give families the opportunity to enjoy interesting films together outside school hours and give the youngest generation an understanding of the concept “film festival”.
The goal of Bíó Paradís – “The Home of Films” is to host an international children’s film festival every year and thereby build a tradition in the cultural lives of children. An event like that will help ignite children’s interest in films and film culture, help them connect to the life and environment of other children around the world and help give children the choice of a more diverse experience on the silver screen than they have been able to see so far.”
Main photo: A still from My Gay Sister (Min homosyster).