Park City Film screenings shares the joy of foreign cinema to children
Park City Foreign Cinema for Kids: “Las Aventuras de Itzel y Sonia” 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12 Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium Free parkcityfilm.org
Back in the fall of 2014, Park City Film, then known as the Park City Film Series, started a kids’ foreign language film program to complement the Spanish and French classes that are taught in Park City elementary schools.
The idea for the program, which consists of free screenings on the second Saturday of each month at the Jim Santy Auditorium, was to provide an “engaging” way kids could get exposure to the languages and cultures they were studying, said Katharine Wang, Park City Film executive director.
“Spanish- and French-language cinema are so different from what we see in cinema in the United States,” Wang said. “There is a different art of telling a story in different parts of the world, as well as cultural appreciation.”
Showing these films give local audiences ideas of what people’s lives are like in other parts of the world, she said.
“The way they tell stories are sometimes similar to us, but the moral or some of the elements they add are different than how we do them,” Wang said. “Also, the fantasy of Spanish cinema and wit of French cinema is much different than what we experience here.”
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As screenings continued under the dual immersion moniker, Wang realized it wasn’t just Park City kids who were learning French and Spanish as a second language that benefited from the screenings.
“The program also gave our native Spanish and French speakers a way to celebrate their languages,” Wang said. “We also began getting a significant cohort of French speakers who are teachers who were coming with their families.”
After seeing the increased interest in the films, Wang said it made sense to change the name of the program to Foreign Cinema for Kids.
“We did that also because most of the foreign films that typically make it to the United States are typically rated R, and we program films that are PG or G rated; appropriate for younger children,” Wang said. “This is a way for foreign film lovers to share something with their children … We actually see a fair number of adults attending these films without their children.”
Park City Film is one of the few arthouse film organizations that offer this type of programming for that age group, according to Wang.
“That means it takes more work on our side to source the films, because some of the films we show aren’t readily available in the U.S.,” she said.
Park City Film contacts distributors in Paris, Mexico or other countries and pay licensing and shipping fees to bring the films to Park City, Wang said.
“That takes makes screening these films more expensive,” she said. “But we are able to show the films for free thanks to our partnership with Park City Library on the program and the support we receive from our main supporter of the Series – Park City Orthodontics.”
The program’s January screening, which will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, will be Fernanda Rivero’s “Laz Adventuras de Itzel y Sonia.”
The Mexican stop-motion film is about Itzel, an 8-year-old girl, and her best friend, Sonia, a frog. They embark on a mission to find the “guardians of the water” before their city’s supply runs out.
February’s film will be Belgian filmmakers Arthur de Pins and Alexic Ducord’s animated “Zombillenium,” which will be screened in French.
“It’s about a theme park that is staffed by zombies,” Wang said. “A little girl wants to go to the park, but her dad, who is a … building inspector, wants to shut the park down. Then he gets turned into a zombie.”
Park City Film will bring back Oskar Santo’s 2014 film from Mexico, “Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang” in March, Wang said.
“This film premiered at Sundance in 2014, and it’s about twins who are up to no good at a boarding school,” she said. “They decided to go on a quest to find a treasure.”
April’s screening is to be determined, but May’s screening is the “Zip and Zap and the Captain’s Island,” the sequel to “Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang.”
“In this film, the twins to go to a mysterious island and uncover treasure,” Wang said.
All the films feature English subtitles, which can provide another teaching moment for young viewers’ parents and guardians, Wang said.
“Americans in general are reluctant to read subtitles because most of our films are in English,” she said. “So you see nationally a decline of foreign cinema offerings. And the decline in box offices means less foreign films will be brought into the United States. So, the way to get people to fall in love and appreciate world cinema is to start when they are kids.”
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