Screenies is gearing up for its second festival event. Watching possible films for the 2016 festival is a fascinating experience. There is a different sensibility to stories from Europe and around the world that our kids don’t usually see. There is a darker edge to them, kids are more independent, parents are on the edge – alcoholic, grieving, facing discrimination. A Turkish girl in Germany being bullied to the point of lashing out violently is not Disney even though there’s a redemptive ending. It is not all dark – we have fuzzy ducks and mountain goats too, but it is a different world to the American sitcoms or movies that our kids generally see and the predictable happy endings or themes of ‘anyone can succeed’.
Being able to present a range of films from around the world especially made for kids and young people is the essence of Screenies. The overwhelming message to parents today is that screen time is negative – and that as parents we need to monitor and control our kids’ time on their devices. But there is also a love of storytelling to foster and an understanding of other cultures and points of view that kids can gain from experiencing stories on screen from around the world. It’s just probably not discoverable by the average child searching on YouTube.
Screenies also wants to put creative tools in kids’ hands – to inspire and to up-skill them as storytellers. We have an exciting partnership with MINA (Mobile Innovation Network Australasia) and are producing the first ever workshop in New Zealand (we believe) teaching young kids to use mobile technology to tell stories and giving them a pathway to exhibition. Check out our Facebook or sign up to our newsletter for details.
Then there is the cinema experience – at Screenies we create a space for kids at TAPAC to feel safe and inspired in, ambassador roles for them to step up and introduce films, a film camp to try out filmmaking skills and workshops in the foyer with Open Fort creative play experts to develop storytelling skills. We have support to bring some low decile schools to experience the magic of Screenies and we hope to continue to expand our reach.
To be sustainable the festival needs people who understand the positive power of media and the enrichment of stories to bring these films and programmes to more Kiwi kids. We are looking for sponsors, volunteers and all round helpers to make Screenies ‘16 a success. A big shout out to SPP who have come back on board as a programme sponsor and to RPM for behind the scenes technology support helping us to power up kids’ imaginations. Having industry on board is an important part of the vision – to connect children with local content makers and storytellers to inspire a new generation. We are starting small but thinking big!