Since founding the Reel Fun Film Festival 10 years ago, Cathy McKee says there is usually one moment that is both heartwarming and a little heartbreaking.
“There have been so many students over the past 10 years that when the lights go down they grab my hand because they don’t know what’s going on,” says McKee, a former teacher and the festival’s director. “Because they have never been able to afford it. I’m in a family with four children, I know what it’s like to take six of us out to a movie. So a lot of them have never seen a movie before. That experience, from Year 1 to Year 10, brings tears to my eyes. I had never really thought of it before. Of course a lot of children had never been to a movie before because their family couldn’t afford it.”
The Reel Fun Film Festival is designed to make film buffs out of Calgary kids, although McKee stresses that it’s a family festival and not just for children. The Feb. 27 to March 5 event will feature 18 films from 16 countries, among other cinema-related activities. The public events, meanwhile, will all be held at La Cité des Rocheuses, at 4800 Richard Rd. SW.
Here are five highlights.
Education Week, Feb. 27 to March 3.
Close to 6,000 pre-registered students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will be attending Landmark Cinema screenings free of charge from Monday, feb. 27 to March 3, checking out a variety of international films. This year, that includes everything from Calgary filmmaker David Schultz’s whimsical Considering Love and Other Magic, to the Thai coming-of-age drama Buffalo Riders, to the Spanish-language Un Caballo Llamado Elefente, to the Belgian-French Second World War drama Fanny’s Journey, to the goofy German adventure Help I Shrunk My Teacher. The films, chosen by a panel of teachers, are often Canadian premières and most haven’t been screened in Calgary before.
“Every single film we screen has some sort of curriculum tie,” says McKee. “It’s a great way to have discussion after they leave, to have a followup activity about what they learned from watching this movie.”
Francophone Night, Thursday March 2, 7 p.m. at La Cité des Rocheuses theatre, 4800 Richard Rd. SW.
Calgary has a sizable francophone population and plenty of French immersion students, so the public part of the festival will kick off Thursday night with a screening of a Swiss film in French. Little Mountain Boy is set in the Alps about a boy who attempts to rescue his family’s prized goat.