Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vancouver International Children's Festival

art in the afternoon

What are your plans for the summer? After all the excitement of the long weekend a.k.a. the unofficial start to summer when all the water parks magically switch on, what else is there left do?
Well, there's plenty - especially if you have kids (or can borrow some).

Vancouver International Kids Festival kicks off on Tuesday, 29th May whooping it up on Granville Island for a whole five days. There is indeed something for everyone, big kid or little, with performances, puppetry, hands-on activities and even a cooking class so it's not just for the pre-school crowd (but shhh! you might have to play hookey from school to attend; you didn't hear it from me).
And for adults too, even the most jaded among you.
May I recommend going to a screening of The Itch of the Golden Nit?

"11-year-old Beanie’s boring life changes forever when he must save his parents from Evil Stella and return the Golden Nit to its rightful place at the heart of the sun, thereby saving the universe.
Created for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Tate Modern with Aardman Animation (who brought us Wallace & GromitCreature Comforts and other incredible claymation), this remarkable project involved more than 34.000 UK school children to create the artwork and conceive the storyline for this 30-minute animated film.
The 30-minute screening is accompanied by a 10-minute behind the scenes short film that focuses on the creation of this incredible film.
We’re thrilled to present the North American premiere of this delightfully funny – not to mention groundbreaking – film that’s made with kids, for kids.
from the Vancouver International Children's Festival website

I was very lucky to be invited to an advance screening of this Aardman Animations mini-movie, along with my boys (one 9-year-old, one 46-year-old) ... and we loved it - for its ridiculous plotline, for the voices, and for the cutest louse ever, but mostly for the images!

Created by the Tate Movie Project (an excellent DIY website for the budding animation expert in your family, btw) for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the entire movie is crowd-sourced from drawings by hundreds of schoolchildren around the British Isles, and the storyline drawn from their suggestions. From covers of magazines on the cartoon newsstand (who else but kids would come up with a magazine titles, Dance Like A Dad  or Hamsters Gone Wild) to the amazing scenery backdrops for the action, the artwork was utterly enchanting. I have never seen so much felt pen and marker art ever, all lovingly created and skillfully combined into the story.

artist at work

My most enchanting moments however, were watching my son watching the film. From the start he was riveted; his eyes never left the screen even when helpless with laughter at the (often corny) jokes. As image upon image of children's art scrolled across the screen and their characters were brought to life, I could see him thinking, this is stuff like mine and it's in a film!

Entertainment aside, The Itch of the Golden Nit is a source of inspiration for children. It shows how valid and creative their own art can be. Art is no longer something simply hung on the walls of lofty institutions - it is accessible and relevant.

Artist at work

So go on - take the budding artist in your life to a screening; tickets include admission to the whole festival site so make a day of it (and play truant, i dare you!)

Disclosure: my family and i attended a special advance screening arranged by Limelite PR to promote the festival. I have been asked to review our experience and broadcast it to my social media network. The words however, are my own.
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