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Behind the films

For 33 years, Nicole Dreiske has made it her mission to help kids take control of the media storm they face every day instead of letting it control them.

As artistic director of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, the largest and longest running children’s film festival in North America, Dreiske is busy whittling down the nearly 1,000 entries for this year’s festival to the very best children’s films in the world.

The film festival, held Oct. 23-Nov. 2 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, and at other Chicago-area venues, celebrates its 25th year this fall. (More details will be available this fall at

What drives you to do the film festival?"Children are exposed to a broad range of media without any mentoring or real guidance, either in school or, for the most part, from families and that’s not the families’ fault. We are not currently in a culture that believes that children will benefit from approaching media critically. And so the festival is intended to fill a conspicuous gap in children’s experience.”

Where does your passion for this issue come from?"The passion is built on the fact that we are losing a generation of kids and I think learning about and from media is one of the greatest solutions we could possibly offer.”

What is your favorite part of the festival?"The five minutes before children start to watch a movie. It’s a magical time. You have this amazing opportunity when you invite children into what I call the empowerment zone and tell them that their opinions matter.”

Best advice for parents:"You love movies and kids love movies so you already have common ground. Don’t let the fact that you may like different things stop you from sharing what you love so they start sharing with you.”

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