Open your kids’ eyes to the world

If you don’t like all the media bombarding your kids you can just turn off the TV or watch everything with them. But for today’s busy families, these are often unrealistic strategies, says Nicole Dreiske, director of children’s programs for the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and co-founder of Facets Multi-Media.

She suggests another alternative, one many parents may never have considered. From Oct. 18-28, the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival gives parents and kids access to 220 of the best children’s films from 33 countries.

But there’s more to the festival than simply watching movies with your kids.

Dreiske sees the festival as helping kids manage the way they relate to media while helping parents start dialogues with their kids about what they watch.

“Parents were coming to us and saying ‘I’m living with Bart Simpson, what do we do?’ ” she says. “The parents couldn’t win the content battle. The way to do it is engaging (kids) in dialogue.” Each screening features a discussion before and after.

There’s something for everyone at this year’s festival, from the My First Movies for kids ages 2-5 to an adventure film starring a 15-year-old boy transported by to the 13th century by his mother’s time machine (“Crusade”).

New this year to the festival is the American Showcase premiering five American-made kids films: “America the Beautiful,” Her Best Move,” “A Plumm Summer,” “Moondance Alexander” and “Labou.”

For non-readers or early readers, actors read the subtitles on foreign films to the audience as if they are reading a book aloud.

In addition to screenings at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, the festival is held at Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, the first weekend, and the Wilmette Theater, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette, the second weekend.

Weekdays, screenings will be at Northwestern University’s Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, Kerasotes Showplace 14, 2600 N. Western Ave., Chicago, and the Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. King Drive, Chicago.

Tickets are $8, $6 for kids per screening. For a complete list of weekend films, go to

The schedule also can be found at every Chicago Public Library, many suburban libraries, stores displaying the festival’s movie monsters posters and online by e-mailing

For parents with multiple ages of kids, many films in the 5-8 year old programming might fit the bill. Dreiske says festival staff can advise parents about what works best for all of their kids.

The Children’s Film Festival is offering a “festival in a box” this year, a Best of Fest DVD for $30 that comes with a kit to promote the event and a 60-page curriculum to engage kids’ critical thinking so that libraries and schools can offer mini film festivals.

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