The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, now in its 20th year, runs Friday, October 24, through Sunday, November 2, at Biograph; Carson Pirie Scott, 6th floor, 1 S. State; City North 14; Facets Cinematheque; and the Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble. Tickets are $6 for children and adults, $4.50 for Facets members; various discounts are available for ten or more tickets. Professional actors will be on hand to read subtitled films. For more information call 773-281-9075 or 773-281-2166. Programs marked with an * are highly recommended. The full festival schedule for October 24 through 30 follows; a complete schedule through November 2 is available online at



Short films from Canada, Taiwan, Slovakia, and the U.S. 79 min. (Vittum Theater, 9:45 am)


A rebellious young girl (Natalie Minnevik) in 1950s Sweden forges a friendship with a strange new teacher at her school (Henrik Rafaelson) in this 2002 drama, adapted from a book by Kerstin Johansson i Backe. In Swedish with subtitles. 80 min. (City North 14, 9:45 am)

Mission Possible!

Short films from Canada, France, Latvia, the UK, and the U.S. 85 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:45 am)

* Whale Rider

Adapted from a novel by Witi Ihimaera, this magic-realist film from New Zealand updates an ancient Maori legend about a coastal village whose founder arrived on the back of a whale. The current village chieftain is worried because he has no male successor: his son has emigrated to Germany and his grandson has died at birth. His granddaughter is a clear leader, but he won’t even consider her. The miraculous outcome is predictable, yet this 2002 film, written and confidently directed by Niki Caro, is otherwise fresh and beguiling. It’s anchored by the natural performances of novice Keisha Castle-Hughes, who’s quietly expressive as the spunky girl, and veteran Rawiri Paratene, playing the gruff chieftain who loves his family but refuses to show it. Leon Narbey’s cinematography captures both the beauty and squalor of the Maori hamlet. In English and subtitled Maori. 101 min. (TS) (City North 14, 10:15 am)

Touching Wild Horses

Actress Jane Seymour will introduce this screening of her 2002 Canadian feature. Directed by Eleanor Lindo, it’s a drama about a boy (Mark Rendall) forced to live on a remote island with his emotionally distant aunt (Seymour), who’s studying wild horses. Murray McRae wrote the script; with Charles Martin Smith. 92 min. (City North 14, 10:45 am)

Wallah Be

A Danish kid, impressed by his Muslim classmates, decides to convert to Islam in this 2002 comedy by Pia Bovin. In Danish with subtitles. 85 min. (City North 14, 11:15 am)

Seize the Day

Short films from Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. 79 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:45 am)


Short films from Australia, Cameroon, South Africa, Wales, Cana-

da, and the U.S. 76 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:45 am)

Disease of the Wind

Jane Seymour leads eight Los Angeles middle school students on a humanitarian journey to Kenya, where the American Red Cross is struggling to contain the outbreak of measles, in this documentary by James Keach. Showing as part of a private cocktail reception to benefit the festival, with Keach and Seymour in attendance. Tickets are $40. (Carson Pirie Scott, 5:30)


Who da Man? Hoedeman!

A tribute to Oscar-winning animator Co Hoedeman, the creator of Ludovic, screening as part of an animation workshop on Sunday, October 26. 85 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:00 am)

The Zoo Crew

Shorts from France, Canada, Scotland, the Netherlands, and the U.S. 81 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:00 am)

* Looney Laughs: A Tribute to Chuck Jones

The festival remembers legendary animator Chuck Jones (1912-2002) with this two-hour survey of his Warner Brothers cartoons, hosted by his widow, Marian. Reviewing an earlier retrospective, Fred Camper wrote, “The cartoons can be seen on television, but much is lost there. Jones’s art depends on establishing and then disrupting space and rhythm….[His cartoons] are full of sharp breaks, abrupt transitions, troubling contradictions; their look and feel and space are as broken and ragged as the coyote’s fur just after he’s been scorched by one of his own explosions. In Jones’s disturbed world, characters are less likely to have their conflicts resolved than to end up in a ‘Psychopathic Hospital.'” On the program: Fast and Furry-ous (1949), Rabbit Hood (1949), The Ducksters (1950), Rabbit of Seville (1950), Feed the Kitty (1952), Little Beau Pepe (1952), Rabbit Seasoning (1952), Duck Amuck (1953), Duck Dodgers in the 241/2 Century (1953), No Barking (1954), One Froggy Evening (1955), There They Go-Go-Go (1956), the Oscar-winning What’s Opera, Doc? (1957), and Robin Hood Daffy (1958). (Biograph, 12:30)

Pelle the Police Car

Little Maria is crushed when her new bike is stolen. Officer Rikhard, a file clerk, is eager to take the case but needs a police car to get around in. Maria wishes on a shooting star and the heavens send a talking Volkswagen Beetle (vintage) with eyes for headlights and a playful, childlike view of the world. Together, Maria, Rikhard, and Pelle the police car hunt down the bike thieves. The fairy-tale locations are beautiful, and the action is exciting without being too intense for youngsters. Thomas Kaiser directed (2002). In Norwegian with subtitles. 75 min. (Hank Sartin) Also on the program: Mike’s New Car, a short film from Pixar Studios. (Facets Cinematheque, 1:00)

Walk on the Wild Side

Short films, most from the Weston Woods animation studios. 69 min. (Vittum Theater, 1:00)

Babar, King of the Elephants

A Canadian-German-French coproduction, this 1999 animated feature is based on the popular series of children’s books by Jean de Brunhoff, and tells the story of how Babar lost his mother, grew up among humans, and returned to the jungle to assume his throne. The composition and imagery are workmanlike at best, but the score is jaunty and witty and the middle section, involving a wealthy matron who transforms the orphaned elephant into a French dandy, is breezy fun. 79 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) (Vittum Theater, 3:00)

Karlsson on the Roof

Adapted from a book by Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking), this animated adventure (2002) from Norway and Sweden chronicles the friendship between a young boy who lives in a high-rise and the strange little man who flies around the building with a propeller on his back. Vibeke Idsoe directed. In Norwegian with subtitles. 80 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 3:00)

Ogu and Mampato in Rapa Nui

A little boy called Mampato uses his time-travel belt to visit caveman Ogu (apparently a pal from previous adventures) and the pair head to Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island) to find out how the big stone heads were made. They enjoy feasts, learn about ancestor worship, and get caught up in local power struggles. The talky script makes for a lot of reading for non-Spanish speakers, and its educational agenda gets lost in thickets of local terminology–I was struggling to keep straight the differences between mana, manutura, tangatu manu, moai, etc. The animation is a bit rough and jerky. Alejandro Rojas directed (2002). In Spanish with subtitles. 78 min. (Hank Sartin) (Facets Cinemathque, 5:00)

Personality Plus

Short films from France, Canada, South Africa, and the U.S. 74 min. (Vittum Theater, 5:00)


Friends and Family

Short films from Taiwan, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Bulgaria, Portugal, Japan, Uruguay, Finland, the UK, and the U.S. 81 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:00 am)

Mission Possible! Short films from France, Canada, Latvia, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 98 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:00 am)

Bear Hugs and Bird Brains

Short films from Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, India, the UK, and the U.S. 73 min. (Vittum Theater, 1:00)

* Hayflower and Quiltshoe

A charming comedy from Finland (2002) about two young girls and their loving but clueless parents, this primer on family dysfunction is sunny and high-spirited. Quiltshoe, a pigtailed moppet who manipulates everyone through guilt and noisy demands, is minded by her older sister, Hayflower, who also cooks, cleans, and wonders how the household will survive without her once she begins school. Their stay-at-home mom has no domestic flair and would rather be working, while their father is always locked away researching the science of the potato. When Quiltshoe runs away to the circuslike hospitality of two dotty neighboring sisters, Hayflower intervenes and gets herself in a fix. Directed by Kaisa Rastimo, this cautionary tale about setting limits and practicing forgiveness is laced with slapstick and whimsy. In Finnish with subtitles. 72 min. (Andrea Gronvall) (Facets Cinematheque, 1:00)

Kids and Their Cameras I

Short films made by children, from Mexico, Belgium, Slovakia, the UK, and the U.S. 112 min. (Vittum Theater, 3:00)

Quick on the Draw!

Short animated films from Australia, Canada, France, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. 107 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 3:00)

Braving New Worlds

Short films from Canada, Denmark, Scotland, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands. 98 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 5:00)

Croatian Creations

Short films by Croatian children. 45 min. (Vittum Theater, 5:00)


Extreme Kids!

Short films from Australia, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Scotland, and the U.S. 79 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:45 am)

The Flying Classroom

Set in a boarding school famous for its choir, this benign but extremely boring 2002 German feature is like Harry Potter minus the magic. An eccentric principal and a wise choirmaster oversee a clutch of boy sopranos who engage in episodic high jinks–pillow fights, snowball fights, sassing authority figures, etc–before uniting with their erstwhile enemies, the “day kids” (i.e., nonboarding students) to produce a hip-hop Christmas pageant called “The Flying Classroom.” Most of this is no worse than a prolonged after-school special, but the rap and break-dance numbers border on child abuse. Tomy Wigan directed. In German with subtitles. 114 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (City North 14, 9:45 am)

The Stuff of Legends

Short films from France, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the U.S. 73 min. (Vittum Theater, 9:45 am)

Ogu and Mampato in Rapa Nui

See listing for Saturday, October 25. (City North 14, 10:15 am)

Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey

Rob Thompson’s engrossing video documentary chronicles the life of one of the “Little Rock Nine,” the group of black students who withstood mob violence and institutional racism to integrate an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957 (with backup from the National Guard). Framed by the 40th anniversary of the event, the movie portrays Trickey as a habitual outsider, tracing her transformation from a beautiful, defiant teenager to a passionate social activist living on a farm in northern Canada. Though its documentary integrity is compromised by historical simulations and undue reticence about the breakup of Trickey’s marriage, it does a good job of conveying the emotional costs of a life spent on the political front lines. 52 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) Trickey will attend the screening. (City North 14, 10:45 am)

Mother Tongue

Short films from Canada, Peru, South Africa, Australia, the UK, and the U.S. 80 min. (City North 14, 11:15 am)

Pure Imagination

Short films from Canada, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 72 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:45 am)

Think Outside the Box

Short films from Australia, Spain, France, Cameroon, South Africa, and the U.S. 74 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:45 am)


Peter Bell

Director Maria Peters based this madcap period comedy (2002) set in 1930s Rotterdam on a novel by Chris van Abkoude. The title character (capably played by Quinten Shram) is a 12-year-old paperboy with a penchant for mischief. The first hour nicely captures the spirit of youthful freedom and adventurousness as the enterprising young capitalist and his friends outfox incompetent police, rigid schoolteachers, and pompous businessmen. The plot also encompasses the romantic tribulations of the hero’s sister and the sorrows of a schoolmate abused by his brute of a father. But at nearly two hours the film is overlong: the sustained hysteria begins to grate by the second half, and the story becomes confused and unfocused. In Danish with subtitles. 110 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) (City North 14, 9:45 am)

Strange Species

Short films from France, Canada, Mexico, and the UK. 79 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:45 am)

Welcome to My City

Short films from Hong Kong, Denmark, Australia, the UK, and the U.S. 81 min. (Vittum Theater, 9:45 am)

Ali and Danny

The title characters of this 2002 action comedy are child actors who meet at an Iranian film festival, one of them an Afghan living in Iran, the other a Londoner. Initially the kids are at odds due to the language barrier and cultural differences, but when Danny the Brit stumbles upon a smuggling operation and is held captive in the desert, Ali goes to his rescue. The young performers are engaging, but the action is too frantic to allow for much character development, and the movie never manages to settle on an appropriate tone or style. Stereotypical villains and repetitive gags leach most of the fun out of the adventure plot. In English and subtitled Farsi. 98 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) (City North 14, 10:15 am)


A fine neorealist film about lower-caste children in India. A spirited village boy (Yakub Sheikh) is sent by his widowed mother to live in the city with his uncle, a street cobbler, and while running an errand he encounters a wide array of people and situations, including a home invasion. Writer-director A.K. Bir gets a fine performance from Sheikh and has a good feel for the funny mental processes of childhood: after finding the elderly robbery victim unconscious, the hero promptly repairs the plug for her electric fan and then turns it on for her comfort. In Hindi with subtitles; also known as The Harmonica. 80 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (City North 14, 10:45 am)

The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear

After a polar bear gives birth to a stillborn cub, her mate steals an Aleutian newborn for her to raise in its place. The human child’s father vows to get him back, but by the time he does, the boy has decided he’d rather be a bear, a dream ultimately realized with the help of arctic animals and elemental spirits. The drawings in Jannik Hastrup’s 2002 Danish feature are pleasant enough (a bit like Maurice Sendak’s), but the animation is pretty static and the tone oddly somber. Younger kids might be disturbed by the notion of the mother polar bear clothing her human child in the skin of her dead cub–I’m not sure I wasn’t. In Danish with subtitles. 75 min. (Cliff Doerksen) (City North 14, 11:15 am)

First Person

Short films from China, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 75 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:45 am)

You Go, Girl!

Short films from France, Australia, the Netherlands, and the U.S. 73 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:45 am)


Portrait of the Artist

Short films from Iceland, Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 79 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:45 am)

Seize the Day

Short films from Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. 79 min. (Vittum Theater, 9:45 am)

* Someone Like Hodder

Sweet little Hodder doesn’t fit in at school, but he tries to keep up a positive front–your heart breaks a little for him when he explains in voice-over, “It’s not that I mind the other kids. I just prefer walking home alone.” When a fairy appears to him one night to tell him he has been chosen to save the world, Hodder sets out to realize his special destiny, and to fix his widowed dad up with a date along the way. Henrik Ruben Genz’s delicate, moving portrait of the daydream world of childhood (2003) is a must-see for older kids and their parents; the relationship between Hodder and his dad is especially touching. In Danish with subtitles. 78 min. (Hank Sartin) (City North 14, 9:45 am)

Time of the Wolf

Not the new Michael Haneke feature (sorry, kids) but a decent children’s soaper about an orphaned grade schooler (Devin Douglas Drewitz) who goes to live with his great-aunt and -uncle in the great white north and befriends an injured wolf. Burt Reynolds sucks thoughtfully on his pipe as the uncle, who’d like to adopt the boy, and German actress Marthe Keller (Marathon Man) delivers a fine performance as his harsh wife, who’s still grieving for the two children they lost years earlier. Less convincing is Jason Priestley, wearing nerd glasses as the boy’s priggish teacher. Don French adapted a novel by Thomas A. MacDonald, moving it from the 1880s to the present, and TV director Rod Pridy evokes honest heartache while underlining every lesson. 90 min. (JJ) (City North 14, 10:15 am)

Mother Tongue

See listing for Monday, October 27. (City North 14, 10:45 am)

Wallah Be

See listing for Friday, October 24. (City North 14, 11:15 am)

Life Lessons

Two short films: from Canada, Penguins Behind Bars, and from Iran, A Lesson for Tomorrow (2002). 73 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:45 am)

Fly Me to the Moon (and Back)

Short films from Denmark, Cameroon, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 79 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:45 am)



Short films from France, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, the UK, and the U.S. 82 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 9:45 am)

The Flying Classroom

See listing for Monday, October 27. (City North 14, 9:45 am)

Vive la Difference

Short films from Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, and the Netherlands. 76 min. (Vittum Theater, 9:45 am)

Peter Bell

See listing for Tuesday, October 28. (City North 14, 10:15 am)

Train of Our Childhood

Syrus Hassanpour directed this visually ambitious 2002 Iranian fable about two boys who leave their harsh mountain village to search for a mysterious hero renowned for averting a train wreck–a perilous quest complicated by their distrust of one another. The nonprofessional actors do a good job of conveying toughness and valor in the face of hardship and poverty. There are lyrical moments as well, as when they slide joyfully down a snowy mountainside. Although the movie italicizes its ideals about bravery and myth a little too aggressively, the story ends with a kick. In Farsi and Turkish with subtitles. 90 min. (Patrick Z. McGavin) (City North 14, 10:45 am)

The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear

See listing for Tuesday, October 28. 75 min. (City North 14, 11:15 am)

Family Matters

Short films from Norway, Singapore, Cameroon, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S. 83 min. (Facets Cinematheque, 11:45 am)

Around the World in 80 Minutes

Short films from Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Wales, Singapore, Cameroon, England, South Africa, and Australia. 80 min. (Vittum Theater, 11:45 am)