CineYouth Festival brings the global silver screen to local movie buffs

If the idea of kid-created movies brings to mind an old camcorder and a sheet for shadow puppets, the Chicago International Film Festival’s 12th annual CineYouth showcase is really going to blow your mind.

Featuring the works of worldwide filmmakers under the age of 22–and giving those same artists their own red carpets on which to trod–CineYouth is hosting the Chicago premiere of 75 films. (The winners are also vying for the award of having their movie screened at the 52nd annual Chicago International Film Festival itself in October of this year.)

Festival highlights include Thursday night’s reception and screening of a new Hollywood animated movie, as well as Saturday’s film pitch and film challenge with judges from Hollywood’s Broad Green Pictures. (Chicago filmmaker Stephen Cohen will be bringing some hometown love to the judge’s panel as well.) The popular CineYouth Film Challenge is the chance for Chicago kids to shine–whether or not they’re participating in the actual film fest– and will get to break into small groups to create, film and edit short movies in the same day. No prior experience with filmmaking or equipment is necessary!

As for the aforementioned Hollywood film, it’s called “Nocturna” (and is brought to us by NY-based distributor GKIDS, whose past hits have included “The Secret of Kells” and the beyond-marvelous Studio Ghibli films), and is set in a Wonderland-like dream world where a young orphan named Tim discovers the curious creatures who do their work at night. (Think: bed head creators and writers of dreams.) This all-ages screening is followed up by a reception which includes hot dogs, popcorn and button-making. RSVPs are required for this one!

Geared towards Chicago families and cinephiles of all ages, the weekend festival is part networking event, part recognition-giving celebration and more than a few parts cinematic joy.

Even more joyful? The three-day event is absolutely free and open to the public.

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