Spring break in Quebec may look different this year but it doesn’t mean there is a shortage of things to do with your kids. In fact, the 24th edition of The Montreal International Children’s Film Festival will be taking place online this year from Feb. 27 to March 7. The festival will showcase more than 100 films from 40 countries.
Even if this year’s festival has to be held online, Director Jo-Anne Blouin says it was important that it still go on because the goal is to introduce young kids to international films they wouldn’t normally see in theatres every day.
This year’s festival will highlight Quebec productions, including three short films that will be offered for free. These three films include: La Recrue, a docufiction about the migrant crisis in Quebec and the rise of right-wing extremism in the province; La voix du coquillage doré, a film tells the tale of siblings Billy and Serena who look to find their voice in the world, will make its Canadian premiere; and Champions, which follows the story about two Canadian athletes, Audrey and Stéphane (who is autistic) and their journey from Canada to Dubai to participate in the World Special Olympics Games. Additionally, the Quebec-made animation Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa will open this year’s festival on Feb. 21. Felix is a 12 year-old boy who’s father disappeared at sea two years ago. Convinced he is still alive, the boy goes looking for him, with the help of Tom (a retired fisherman), Squawk (a thieving one-legged parrot) and Rover (a cat who acts like a dog).
Films are separated by age group: from kids 2-5, 6-9 , and 10 and older, as well as by genre: Latin-American films, films that are available for free and films available in English, for example.
Some films to watch out for, says Blouin, include the 2020 Slovak film called Summer Rebels, a story about 11-year-old Jonas, who wants to visit his cool grandpa for the summer, against his mother’s wishes. He sneaks out and goes anyways, and realizes his cool grandpa has become cranky grandpa. While Jonas is left on his own for the summer, he befriends Alex, and together they make up a story so they can earn money to buy a boat. This leads to adventures and misunderstandings, and his grandfather ends up in jail. Will Jonas be able to fix his mess?
Another is the Iranian Docudrama called Blue Girl, where a group of kids living in the rocky mountains in an Iranian village try to find a flat piece of land so they can play soccer. There’s also the story of Oskar & Lily, two sibling refugees from Austria who are placed in separate foster families and try to find each other.
Blouin says by having stories where the main characters are kids the same age as the kids watching the films, it allows them to relate to their stories.
The selection of titles will be vast, from animated and fictional feature films to documentaries and television series. All of the foreign language movies will either have French or English subtitles, or even both.
Click here to access the festival’s platform; create an account and browse the films. Blouin says the platform is similar to shopping online.
There are a few workshops happening from March 1 to 6 at 4 p.m. For example, on March 2 and 5, kids can learn about animation cinema and how to manufacture an optical toy. On March 1 and 4, kids can also learn how to draw comic book characters. All workshops cost $12 and registration is required. For more information, click here.
Pre-sale family packages are available until Feb. 27 for $80, which gives families access to all of the films. And individual film tickets cost $12 per film (or $10 during presale). All the films will be available for the entirety of the festival, so families can buy tickets any time. However, once you start playing film, you have 48 hours to finish watching it. For some films, there will be a 500 ticket cap, and you will be able to see if a screening is sold out.
For more information, click here.