Environmental Film Festival offers dozens of movies for kids

By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, March 12, 2010

The 18th annual Environmental Film Festival runs Tuesday through March 28 and offers 155 films at 56 venues. Some of the films are moving, some frightening, some funny and some serious. Lucky for parents and teachers, dozens of the fiction and nonfiction films are geared toward kids.

Jane Sablow, a first-time filmmaker, will speak after the screenings of her three award-winning short computer-generated films about kids eating right. In "Wishful Thinking," a young girl wishes for fruits and vegetables on her birthday. In "Cravings," a little girl tries desperately to grab her (surprising) favorite snack on the table. And in "Smart Machine," an ominous vending machine yields an interesting snack.

"I've been a healthy eater my whole life," says Sablow, a visual artist from New York. "I'm more of a broccoli girl."

The director is as fun and dynamic as the movies, so her talk should be an added bonus. She will discuss the makings of her movies and hand out thaumatropes, cards with an image on either side that when twirled rapidly look like the two images merge.

Sablow's goal for her films is to get families talking about and around healthy food. The films, she says, "straddle the line between education and entertainment."

The details: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 901 G St. NW, Room 200; Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Palisades Neighborhood Library, 4901 V St. NW; Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave. NE; March 22 at 10:30 a.m. at Anacostia Interim Library, 1800 Good Hope Rd. SE; March 23 at 10:30 at Parklands-Turner Neighborhood Library, 1547 Alabama Ave. SE. Free and no reservations necessary. Best for ages 3-12.

The festival offers other movies for kids aimed to inform and inspire. Many events feature not just a movie screening, but a chance for kids to talk to a filmmaker or interact with the subject of the movie. Most films won't sell out, but plan to arrive 30 minutes early to ensure a spot.

-- "The Gift of Pachamama" (El Regalo de la Pachamama) is a fictional coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old boy from Bolivia who goes on a caravan for seven months with his father. In Spanish with English subtitles, the 102-minute film will introduce kids to a different kind of life. Discussion with the filmmaker will follow.

The details: March 19 at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW, Rasmusen Theater, Level One. Free and no reservations necessary. Best for age 10 and older.

-- For wildlife adventurers, "Mystery of the Wolf," about a 12-year-old girl in Finland who hides a couple of wolf cubs from poachers, is a good one. Another coming-of-age story, this 90-minute fictional tale is in Finnish with English subtitles.

The details: March 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets at the door are $5, or $3 for Avalon members. Reserve tickets by calling 202-966-6000 or go to http://www.theavalon.org. Best for age 8 and older.

-- Got a future marine biologist in your house? Check out a sneak preview of "Turtle: The Incredible Journey," an inspirational 81-minute story about a real turtle born on a Florida beach that travels across the North Atlantic Ocean and back.

The details: March 21 at 3 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Tickets are $10, or $9 for seniors, students and military, $6 for kids 12 and younger. Buy tickets at the door starting a half-hour before the show or go to http://www.afi.com/silver. Best for age 8 and older.

-- For kids who relate to city stories, award-winning "The Legend of Pale Male," a true story about a hawk in New York, is right up their city block. The award-winning 85-minute film is about the impact the hawk has on the city. Discussion with the filmmaker will follow.

The details: March 27 at noon at the National Museum of Natural History, Baird Auditorium, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free and no reservations necessary. Best for age 8 and older.

-- Bird lovers get two 58-minute films, "American Eagle" and "The Path of the Condor." After the showing of "American Eagle," the wildlife center will present a live bald eagle.

The details: March 28, "American Eagle" at 1 and "The Path of the Condor" at 2:45 p.m. Both movies at the National Wildlife Visitor Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel. Free and no reservations necessary. Best for age 10 and older.

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