Families often spend free evenings in February watching films at home or in film theatres. RIGA IFF children film programme curator Kristine Simsone recommends the ten best films that will definitely impress children and adults alike.
«Latvians are encouraged the most by films aimed at children and made in Latvia. For a long time those were ‘Lotte from Gadgetville’ and ‘Waterbomb for the Fat Tomcat’. Among foreign films, there are ‘The Children of Noisy Village’ and ‘Annie’,’ – says journalist Ansis Bogustovs. ‘Although my wife and me were more bookish children, I find watching films more enjoyable! There are many masterpieces that inspire children to be nicer and better.»
«Here are ten of the best films for children and adults alike. These ten films inspire imagination, motivate and help people of all ages to find answers. Some of them have not yet been localized for Latvian audience, but they do have a strong visual narrative, which is something that ensures understanding of the story at the very least on a basic level.»
Ursus (2011), directed by Reinis Petersons (Latvia)
One of the most marvellous animated films produced in Latvia in the last decade. It is a story about a circus bear in search of happiness. Although in black and white, this minimalistic short is perfect for consideration of the topic of using wild animals in circus performances. Its message is timeless, and the animated film is glance in the world of feelings. Recommended for ages 7 and older. Available at: Vimeo.com free of charge.
How are you, Rudolf Ming? (2010), directed by Roberts Rubins (Latvia)
Well-known and considered a classic, this energetic self-documentary is not just about children, it’s meant for children. Having a perspective on peers and their look on the world helps expand one’s interests and better understand the world in general, especially considering how different people are from one another. Recommended to ages 7 and older. Available: Filmas.lv free of charge.
Singin’ In the Rain (1952), directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (USA)
The majority of classic Hollywood musicals are great for adults and children alike – this one is no exception. The comedic story about the beginning of films with sound is not only entertaining and easy to understand, but is also a good stop for studying culture. Catchy tunes and Gene Kelly’s virtuous dancing can easily motivate anyone to at least try to dance. Recommended to ages 7 and older. Available at: Netflix.com.
Hugo och Josephin (1967), directed by Kjell Grede (Sweden)
Possibly Swedish Director Kjell Grede’s finest work. The famous film is a heartfelt story that is full of adventures. It tells the story of friendship of two children. During a summer break Josephin, a priest’s daughter, meets Hugo, who becomes her only friend. A classic, good-natured child adventure story that teaches children about friendship and its importance. No age restriction. Film available: Amazon.co.uk.
The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (1975), directed by Ivo Caprino (Norway)
Norwegian children’s cinema classic and all-time most watched film. Intriguing and visually exciting stop-motion animated story about an inventor taking part in a grand prix race with a car he had invented. The animated film is an exciting look at honorable competition. No age restriction. Available at: Caprino.no.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988), directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
One of the most notable and most famous works by the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. It is a story about two sisters meeting a strange and kind forest spirit (or as the furry giant is called elsewhere – trolli) named Totoro. Like all of Miyazaki’s animated films, this one is imaginative, full of love and emphasizes the need to be in harmony with nature and people. No age restriction. Available at: Amazon.com (DVD).
C’est pas moi, je le jure! (2008), directed by Philippe Falardeau (Canada)
Brisk, heartfelt and humorous drama is a story about a ten-year-old boy named Leon. He is gifted with a rich imagination, has divorced parents and insufferable neighbours. This film explores a very sensitive topic of families torn by divorce and the feeling of loneliness when growing up. The film does this with creative humour and exciting adventures. Appropriate for all ages. Available at: Amazon.fr.
A Town Called Panic (2009), directed by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar (Belgium)
The main heroes of this comedic animated film, plastic figurines of a cowboy, and indian and a horse, go on exciting, funny and mysterious situations throughout the story. The manner in which this animated film plays out reminds children playing. Meticulous in performance and funny in its story-telling manner, this film can inspire imagination in children and maybe inspire them to shoot their own stop-motion film with their own toys. Recommended for ages 5 and older. Available at: Amazon.com (DVD).
Ernest & Celestine (2012), directed by Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar (France)
Bears and mice are enemies, not friends – such is the belief held by the two main characters, a mouse named Celestine and a bear named Ernest. Nevertheless, it does not stop them from becoming friends. Fascinating and visually intricate animated film invokes a retro feeling. It encourages children to look at things more carefully and making their own opinions, not taking the opinions of others for granted. No age restriction. Available at Lattelecom.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2013), directed by Benh Zeitlin (USA)
A gem of independent movie-making scene with elements of a fable and adventure film. A visually-rich story about the untamed marshlands in the south-east of USA. The story revolves around a little girl and her look on the world and attempts to understand it. A kind and creative look at existentially ‘large things’ from a child’s perspective that teaches not to be afraid. Recommended for ages 10 or older. Available at: Amazon.com.