A Free, Family-friendly Film Festival

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival

2013 KIDS FIRST! Film Festival | Photo courtesy Ann Brandman

It’s been so long since I’ve been to the movie theater, I have no clue what the going rate is for a ticket and snacks.

For the record, I “Googled” the subject, but guess what popped up? A bunch of Yelp reviewers complaining about the high prices of movie tickets and concessions in Hawaii.

But wait, what’s this I hear about a free film festival?

Yes, I said free.

The KIDS FIRST! Film Festival will kick off its eighth year this weekend. Over the next four Sundays, many family-friendly films will screen at the UH-Manoa Art Auditorium. The festival was started in 2007 as part of UHM’s Centennial Celebrations to attract more families to campus.

Ann Brandman, former curator of film and video at Honolulu Academy of Arts (now Honolulu Museum of Art), saw KIDS FIRST! Film Festival as a perfect fit.

“Knowing that kids spend so much time in front of screens of all sizes, I was interested in starting media-savvy habits and awareness early in life,” Brandman says. “I knew how much film can broaden the horizons of the mind and heart, bring cultures together, present new ideas and serve up a lot of fun!”

Brandman views a lot of film before the festival to see what would work for a local audience. KIDS FIRST! films are free of gratuitous violence; race, gender or religious bias; inappropriate content; and condescension toward children.

A feature film starring British cousins Sophia Grace and Rosie will kick off this year’s festival. You may recognize the precocious pair from the Ellen DeGeneres Show. They became household names by nailing Nicki Minaj’s hit Super Bass on Ellen, and their tutuand tiara-loving personalities.

In Sophia Grace and Rosie’s Royal Adventure, the girls are sent to Switzelvania as Ellen’s correspondents to cover the coronation of a new queen. As Warner Home Video explains the plot, “When they encounter three very different princesses competing for the throne, Sophia Grace and Rosie hatch a royal plot to help the best candidate win.”

The second film, Lotte from Gadgetville, was a huge hit in Estonia. Lotte is about a spirited animated dog. It will screen June 22 and is appropriate for toddlers on up.

June 29 is the screening of short animations perfect for young ones with short attention spans. Children ages 2-6 will love Peppa Pig, a popular little piggy who loves to play dress-up, and Poppy Cat, a cat always out for adventure.

In an effort to appeal to tweens, Brandman chose Wolf Summer to wrap up the festival. It’s a Norwegian film with subtitles that follows the journey of a 12-year old girl. Kim is injured in a fall and wakes up trapped in a shack with a mother wolf and her cub, and locked in a heated conflict between animal and man.

Free movie, free parking and door prizes. This is one family-friendly event that’s worth checking out.

KIDS FIRST!Film Festival Sundays, June 8, 22, 29 and July 13 at 3 p.m.

UH-Manoa Art Auditorium summer.hawaii.edu