Sundance adds a new category for kids | ParkRecord.com

Sundance adds a new category for kids

Nan Chalat Noaker, The Park Record

Patrick Hubley, Artistic Director of the Utah Film Center, helped to select the two films screening in the film festival s new category, Sundance Kids. He also curates the annual Tumbleweeds film festival for children presented by the Utah Film Center. Photo by Nan Chalat Noaker

In addition to nurturing independent filmmakers, the Sundance Institute, host of the Sundance Film Festival, is committed to expanding audiences for their work. This year, the Institute is expanding its reach into the world of children’s films.

It is a world that the Utah Film Center’s artistic director Patrick Hubley has been exploring since 2007.

After a stint as associate media relations director for the Sundance Film Festival, Hubley said, "I was thinking about my home in Utah and what was missing in the film landscape."

Then he remembered his days working with the Toronto International Film Festival that is also known for its children’s film festival, "tiff.kids."

"I was sitting in a foreign language film for five year olds, ‘Desmond and the Swamp Barbarian Trap,’ a Swedish film that was being screened in Toronto, in Swedish with English subtitles and the young audience was completely engaged and participating. It was one of those ‘ah ha’ moments when I realized, ‘there is a way to show foreign films to younger audiences.’"

Hubley said he began to focus on "what makes a good film for kids, not multiplex offerings."

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Naturally he looked to Sundance as a model. "We have such a strong, literate film community, nurtured by Sundance, the Film Center, the Park City Film Series and Spyhop." With that in mind, under the Utah Film Center’s auspices, Hubley launched the Tumbleweeds Film Festival for Children + Youth.

The festival is making a name for itself.

Last year, Tumbleweeds included 11 feature-length and 36 short films selected by Hubley and a youth film expert in Toronto. He also traveled to Cinekid in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s leading children’s festivals and the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, the oldest of its kind in North America, to learn more about the evolving world of children’s film offerings. Some of his discoveries will be screened at this year’s Tumbleweeds festival that will take place in Salt Lake City, March 14-16.

In the last two years, the Utah Film Center has also expanded Tumbleweeds into a year-round program that offers free monthly screenings in six cities including Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Kamas, Price and Orem.

Hubley said he has been pleasantly surprised by how well the films have been received.

"My goal in starting this festival was community-driven. These films weren’t being screened in Utah at all before we showed them. So I have been very excited about the reaction our program has been getting from the kids at Tumbleweeds across the board kids love good stories and I’m excited about the level of sophistication that kids are appreciating."

Sundance’s invitation to collaborate on a category for children within its famous festival this year is icing on the cake, said Hubley.

"We are thrilled as a community-based organization that they have approached us to work with them on this program. It is great to be recognized by a leader of cinema and to be recognized for what we are doing," he said.

He said the partnership will help elevate the Utah Film Center’s year-round programming at Tumbleweeds, and children’s film in general.

Debuting this year, the Sundance Film Festival’s new Sundance Kids category will include two foreign films targeted for young audiences. According to Hubley, one of the films which screens in Spanish with English subtitles will be accompanied by a reader for younger audience members. KUER radio’s Elaine Clark will be in the projection booth narrating through wireless headsets for nonreaders.

Tickets for the Sundance Kids screenings are $10. Times and locations are as follows:

ERNEST AND CELESTINE

"Mice and bears can never be friends," according to the rules in the charming world of Ernest and Celestine. Celestine is a young mouse in an underground land where cautionary tales of bears are told and all mice are destined to become dentists. But that doesn’t stop Celestine from dreaming of becoming an artist. After being assigned a mission above ground—the world of bears—Celestine meets Ernest, a big bear, clown, and musician who lives on the fringes of bear society. Ernest welcomes her into his home, flying in the face of the established order.

  • Saturday, Jan. 18, 12:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City
  • Sunday, Jan. 19, 2 p.m., Salt Lake City Library Theatre, Salt Lake City
  • Saturday, Jan. 25, 12:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City

ZIP & ZAP AND THE MARBLE GANG

Two of Spain’s most beloved comic-book characters—Zip and Zap—come to life in this rollicking adventure. With summer coming, the twin brothers are caught stealing the answers to their final exams, so instead of having a fun-filled vacation, Zip and Zap are sent to a strict boarding school run by a no-nonsense headmaster named Falconetti. The school is worse than they could have imagined.

  • Saturday, Jan. 18, 3:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City
  • Sunday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m., Salt Lake City Library Theatre, Salt Lake City
  • Saturday, Jan. 25, 1 p.m., Redstone Cinema 2, Park City