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March 7, 2017 > Bay Area International ChildrenÕs Film Festival

Bay Area International ChildrenÕs Film Festival

By David R. Newman

The Bay Area International ChildrenÕs Film Festival (BAICFF) returns to the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland on March 10 Ð 12. Now in its 9th year, the festival will feature over 40 animated, live action, shorts and feature-length films from around the world. Workshops and Q&A sessions will round out the program, designed to educate and inspire the kid in all of us.

2017 festival highlights will include a special Opening Night panel discussion entitled BRAVE: Women Breaking the Mold, where four prominent female artists will discuss their journey in a historically male-dominated field. Also on offer through a partnership with Common Sense Media will be a special workshop called How to Be a Kid Critic. Says co-founder Shelley Trott, ÒIn this climate where we are bombarded by media, we felt the need to provide some guidance for kids, and adults, on viewing media content with a critical eye, discerning between reality and fantasy.Ó

Among the films being screened will be ÒBatkid Begins,Ó a documentary about the day that San Francisco and the world came together to grant a five-year-old cancer patient his wish, one of the biggest news stories of the year. Also on display will be ÒLong Way North,Ó one of the most beautiful international animated films of 2016.

Animation workshops will be held throughout the festival, with help from students of Berkeley City College, providing children hands-on lessons in stop-motion techniques using found objects and clay figures. Says Trott, ÒKids can get a hint of what itÕs like to create these animated films, which take an amazing amount of creativity and work.Ó Incorporating music and sound effects, these animated shorts will then be shown to audience members on the big screen, with introductions by the little creators themselves.

Founded in 2009 by Jim Capobianco of Pixar and Trott, BAICFF is unique in that its audience is primarily children. It started off as a community initiative by a small group of parents whose children attended the Renaissance International School in Oakland. They held their first, one-day festival at an old art deco movie theater in Alameda, with over 400 people in attendance. Says Trott, ÒWe realized there was a great demand for this type of programming.Ó

What started off as a grassroots school program has since evolved into its own entity, growing in attendance each year (they estimate 1,500 will attend this year). Three years ago they moved to the Chabot Space & Science Center and havenÕt looked back. Says Chabot Visitor Engagement Manager Liz Austerman, ÒWe were thrilled when they originally approached us because itÕs a really unique festival, and itÕs an audience that we are reaching out to as well.Ó

Indeed, it would seem that Chabot is the perfect venue for such an event, from the state of the art Mega Dome Theater, to the Planetarium, to the classrooms, to the cafˇ. Says Austerman, ÒItÕs a huge center. We have plenty of space, so people donÕt feel like theyÕre in a movie theater all day.Ó Tickets to the film festival also include admission to the center, so attendees can view the exhibits and telescopes as well.

The theme of this yearÕs festival is STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math). Says Austerman, ÒHaving a film festival here is a nice highlight to what weÕre trying to foster in kids. ItÕs a perfect alignment with what we do in our education, which goes well beyond astronomy. We teach biology classes and chemistry classes and the earth sciences. WeÕre not just about the telescopes.Ó

BAICFF, normally held in January, moved this year to March to give them more time to promote it after the holidays. If all goes well, it may become a permanent change. They are also looking to expand to other East Bay cities, and may become a part of ChabotÕs year-round offerings.

Says Austerman, ÒWe look forward to this every year. The films are so dynamic, itÕs unbelievable how creative they are. And thatÕs something we try to do in our programming. ThereÕs a technical side to things, but itÕs really about freeing your mind and being creative. Being brave, taking chances, exploring things that youÕre not quite sure of.Ó

Tickets for FridayÕs Opening Night are $12 for adults and $6 for youth, but are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Individual tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $25 for adults and $14 for youth ($15 for Chabot member adults, $7 member youth) or purchase a 2-Day Weekend Pass at $35 for adults and $20 for youth ($21 member adult, $10 member youth). Tickets are available at the door or at All tickets include general admission to the center. For program details visit

Bay Area International ChildrenÕs Film Festival
Friday Ð Sunday, Mar 10 Ð 12
Friday: 7 p.m. Ð 9 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. Ð 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. Ð 5 p.m.
Chabot Space & Science Center
1000 Skyline Dr, Oakland
(510) 336-7300
Tickets: Opening Night: $12 adult, $6 youth
Saturday & Sunday: $25 adult, $14 youth; $15 member adult, $7 member youth
2-Day Pass: $35 adult, $20 youth; $21 member adult, $10 member youth

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