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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 6, 2008

Festival offers seven weeks of family films for free

By Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

"Obara & the Merchants" is among the Super Shorts you can see July 20 at the University of Hawai'i.

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Say this until you believe it: Tough economic times call for filmic relief.

The second annual Kids First! Film Festival, sponsored by the University of Hawai'i Outreach College, kicks off Sunday for seven weeks of family film fare that, among other things (like featuring funny, touching and too-cute-for-the-room award-winning films), is free.

But let's get some perspective, right? What really matters is that the fest offers families an educational and entertaining way to spend their summer Sundays. Well, yeah, but let's get real: Given the choice between a brainy family excursion that costs more than most are prepared to spend and a no-cost mind-numbing day at the beach, the free beach visit might win out.

But there's no need to choose, because this is one affair that covers all the bases: fun, educational and free.

"Besides the films' messages, the fact that this is a free program is very important to me," said Ann Brandman, film curator for the festival. "I don't know how families do it nowadays. It's so expensive to take your family out to the movies, and this is a great way to get families together."

And it's a big hit with the keiki. According to Brandman, last year's debut festival drew 1,400 kids and adults to the six-week event.

This year, UH Outreach College has partnered with Starwood Hotels to offer two film screenings at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel in an effort to make the films available to visitors as well as kama'aina.

This year's lineup includes a mix of drama, comedy, animation and narrated features that are suitable for all age groups. The films were chosen from a library of teacher-, parent- and kid-approved films that have been screened to be guaranteed free of gratuitous violence, race, gender or religious bias and condescension toward children.


The Kids First! Film Festival takes place over the course of seven weeks, with screenings starting Sunday.

The films will be shown in two locations: the University of Hawai'i-Manoa's Art Auditorium and the Sheraton Waikiki.

Admission to all films is free. The schedule:

  • "Moondance Alexander"

    A girl's struggle to fit in is eased by a chance meeting with a wild pinto. For ages 8 and older.

    3 p.m. Sunday, UHM Art Auditorium; repeats at 7 p.m. June 29 at the Sheraton Waikiki.

  • "Knights of the South Bronx"

    A teacher (Ted Danson) makes chess champions out of his inner-city students while teaching them how to succeed at life. For ages 9 and older.

    3 p.m. June 15, UHM Art Auditorium.

  • "Alice Upside Down"

    A quirky comedy about a tween girl who gets some unexpected help dealing with a big move to another city. Based on the books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. For ages 8 to 12.

    3 p.m. June 22, UHM Art Auditorium; repeats at 7 p.m. July 6 at the Sheraton.

  • Short film showcase: Critter Tails

    Three short films about animal antics: "Dooby Dooby Moo," "The Ugly Duckling and Me: School Days" and "The Tails of Abbygail." For ages 3 to 7.

    3 p.m. June 29, UHM Art Auditorium.

  • "All Roads Lead Home"

    A drama about a girl trying to come to terms with the death of her mother. She finds solace in her family, friends and pets a horse and a dog named Atticus. For ages 8 and up.

    3 p.m. July 13, UHM Art Auditorium.

  • Short film showcase: Super Shorts

    A series of four short films about learning, loving, living and adventure. For ages 5 to 9.

    3 p.m. July 20, UHM Art Auditorium

    For more detailed information about the films, visit www.outreach.hawaii.edu/summer.

    Reach Kawehi Haug at khaug@honoluluadvertiser.com.