Now Playing! Bay Area International Children’s Film Fest Lifts Off at Chabot

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Still from 'Hair Love.' (Courtesy of Bay Area International Children's Film Festival)

Children are reasonably well served by the major studios, all of whom have staked a claim to the animated-feature gold mine that was once Disney’s exclusive forte. But a child’s relationship to movies can go beyond viewing, no matter how active and engaged that experience may be. The annual Bay Area International Children’s Film Fest, Feb. 22–23 at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, opens the door for kids to understand how films are made—and provides the hands-on opportunity to create a little magic themselves.

BAICFF opens Feb. 20 at Oakland’s Grand Lake with Benh Zeitlin showing and fielding questions about Wendy, his heroine-driven take on Peter Pan, before its wide release on Feb. 28. The weekend screening schedule encompasses a range of styles, subjects and lengths, from the Academy Award-winning animated short Hair Love to Brazilian director Marcos Negrão’s feature-length documentary, Child of Nature, which introduces us to remarkable kids in Kenya, Syria and other countries who are making a transformational difference.

Still from 'Child of Nature.' (Courtesy of Bay Area International Children's Film Festival)

Filmmakers will be everywhere at BAICFF, eager to dispense inspiration, tips and courage to future directors. The Walt Disney Family Museum hosts a “Character Design” workshop to develop individual skill sets, and assembles its resident experts and a couple mid-career animators to discuss “The Artist’s Career,” offering guidance to prospective illustrators.

Berkeley City College also teams up with BAICFF for hands-on workshops about clay puppet animation, pixilation and foley. The big draw, though, may be Sunday’s “Family Fun Stop-Motion Workshops,” which entice parents and children to collaborate on their own short films. Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse.