Do you want a change from Disney princesses and superheroes? I know as a Mum of two young kids (6 and 9) that what my children see on screen is really important to me. I know from experience that it informs their view of themselves and their world. I have seen them playing imaginary games with American accents, building Lego cities after watching the Lego movie and choosing to be animal rescuers after a diet of Diego and March of the Penguins.

I started Screenies as a way of bringing more diverse quality content to kids in New Zealand. It is a new dedicated film festival for children – a tradition that is well established in countries around the world. Starting in Auckland, Screenies is about cultural cinema and innovative digital experiences – and inspiring children to think about their world and different points of view. We have short films from all around the world, curated in packages by Little Big Shots – an Australian children’s film festival now in its 11th year. Screenies also has a taster of feature films from Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.

Screenies International Kids film festival

Come and see My Friend Raffi – a crime caper with a hamster in the lead role, or Pim & Pom from the Netherlands, a charming retro-styled animation that will appeal to all ages. Shana – The Wolf’s Music is a coming-of-age story for older children about a Canadian First Nations girl who has to come to terms with her mother’s death and her own musical journey. Made with the indigenous people (and non actors) it is a thought-provoking insight into a dispossessed community. “Filmed with a cast made up of People of the Creeks, the Lower Nicola Indian Band, near Merritt, British Columbia. The Swiss director spent seven months making this moving, magical and authentically intercultural film” – Seattle Children’s Film Festival

Screenies International Kids film festival

I hope that this festival will bring children and families together to share stories on screen in a positive way. Stories do inform our children’s identity and media is a great source of stories for children. I hope too that providing a new outlet for children’s content will be a way of stimulating more local stories to be made for children – as the first world our children should see is their own.

Screenies is part of the conversation about what media our children have access to and how it can build their imagination – rather than only seeing it as junk to be limited at all costs. Being informed and well-served digital citizens will benefit our children as media is so much their world. Part of the festival’s commitment is to involve children in the festival as ambassadors and in the years to come, as storytellers. This year we start with a Film Camp for teens (13–16 years).

Do come and be part of Screenies in its first outing as a children’s film festival so we can watch it grow in years to come.


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