"That's how I describe it," Yocom said during an interview with The Park Record. "These are films children won't see every day, but when they walk out of the screenings, they talk with one another about the films, and, in that way, they are building their own community."
The Utah Film Center will present the Tumbleweeds Film Festival from Friday, March 14, through Sunday, March 16, and will team with the Park City Film Series to bring screenings to Park City at the Jim Santy Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday.
The films scheduled for the Park City screenings are Katia von Garnier's "Windstorm," Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner's "Ernest & Celestine," Thomas Bodenstein's "Knight Rusty" and Oskar Santos' "Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang." (For description of the films, see story titled "Park City screenings for the Tumbleweeds Film Festival")
Tumbleweeds artistic director Patrick Hubley selected the films, Yocom said.
"This year, Patrick went to Amsterdam and the Chicago Kids Film Festival and viewed several films," she said. "He also looked at films that were submitted to him by other people, including a gentleman from Canada."
Many of these films are independent or by foreign filmmakers who specifically made them for children and families, Yocom explained.
"We make sure we have content for all age groups up to age 18, so we're not just showing films for young children," she said. "Most of the kids who attend the screenings come with their parents, so that's in the back of our minds, too."
After Hubley watches the films, he shares them with the Utah Film Center's administrators and board of directors.
"Then he narrows the list down and creates a wonderful program," Yocom said. "These films are ones that parents and kids would not get a chance to see every day.
The initial idea for Tumbleweeds came when Hubley realized that the Utah Film Center wasn't showing enough quality films for children.
"He also saw that we weren't fostering young film lovers and filmmakers and he felt we really needed to examine how we could engage kids," Yocom said. "He noticed all these amazing films that were being made, but, unfortunately, weren't reaching a widespread audience."
For the first year, the films were screened only in Salt Lake City, but now Tumbleweeds is presented in venues from Moab to Ogden, including West Jordan, Kamas, Price and Park City, Yocom said.
"This is the second year we are screening the films in Park City, and we're excited to bring even more films up there this year," she said.
Yocom, who has been with the Utah Film Center for the past two years, has seen an increase in younger people in the audience thanks to Tumbleweeds.
"They are learning about the importance of film, but I also think that parents are learning that there are quality films out there other than what the major studios are releasing for their kids," she said.
The films that will screen in Park City are diverse, and feature strong story lines, Yocom said.
"Some of them will be screened in German or Spanish and have subtitles," she said. "For a lot of children, these screenings are their first opportunity to see a film with subtitles."
Parents shouldn't worry, because the Utah Film Center provides readers for those younger children who don't read as quickly as the others and the children can access the readers through closed-circuit headphones.
"So when the kids watch, they can hear the translations," Yocom said.
In addition to the screenings, Tumbleweeds offers free workshops over the weekend at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City.
"One of our partners, Spyhop, will do an animation workshop this year," Yocom said. "It's scheduled to go on all day Saturday and all day Sunday."
Another workshop is offered by SHIFT, an organization that works with teachers to introduce media to the classroom.
"Teachers can come for free and learn about effectively using media in the classroom," Yocom said. "We also host a flip-book workshop, where kids learn how animation is created. The little kids up to 17-year-olds just love that."
For full list of workshops, visit www.utahfilmcenter.org .
The Tumbleweeds Film Festival is another way for Yocom to share her love of films with younger audiences.
"My passion is the storytelling and connecting people in the community with film," she said. "I like helping people appreciate how powerful film is. All weekend long we show films and educate the audience."
The Utah Film Center will present the Tumbleweeds Film Festival from Friday, March 14, through Sunday, March 16. Park City screenings will be held on March 15 and 16. Tickets are $6 per screening and can be purchased by visiting www.utahfilmcenter.org or www.arttix.org.