Family Matters: ‘Hidden gems’ film festival makes a commotion

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Sheffield children’s film festival Showcomotion is back this year with a mission to open young eyes to different kinds of films – from smash hit cartoons of the future to alternative quirky imports,

Organisers of The Showroom event want to offer youngsters the chance to see films they would never normally be able to access and in a bid to keep it open to all, tickets are just £2.

The festival is one of just a few nationwide aimed specifically at youngsters – and organisers hope parents, teachers and teenagers will make the most of the unique offerings in their own city.

They have picked films which not only entertain but also inform and challenge – hoping to help youngsters discover gems off the beaten track.

Issues on the movies’ agendas range from teenage pregnancy to immigration and identity.

The first Showcomotion took place in 1999. After a year away because of funding problems, it is back for 2011.

The opening gala is on Friday, May 20 and focuses on a screening of Red Dog, the true story of a canine who united a disparate community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long lost master.

Producer Nelson Woss will be on hand at The Showroom as well as a handful of other VIPs.

Another highlight in the nine-day timetable is a preview screening of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules on May 21 – before the film’s UK release.

Festival director Joan Parsons plans to fill The Showroom with fun events for youngsters from tiny tots to late teens.

“There are so few films on release for children in the UK that aren’t made in Hollywood,” she said. “It is part of our focus to promote world cinema and bring it to children in the UK.

“There is a lot of stuff they would never get a chance to see. We want to give them an opportunity to explore other films.

“One of the reasons it is hard to get children to see certain types of film is because they don’t know anything except the ones with huge amounts of advertising.

“Everything is branded so they become very aware of what to look for. These films haven’t got that branding and one of the key things is to make kids aware through their parents.”

The InterActive Youth Jury, from left Lauren Sharpe, Beau Broomhead, Sophie Russell, Danny Battle and Rhiannon Topham.

The InterActive Youth Jury, from left Lauren Sharpe, Beau Broomhead, Sophie Russell, Danny Battle and Rhiannon Topham.

For the first time an InterActive Youth Jury, a group of five 15 to 18 year olds, will watch a selection of films in competition to win the InterActive Youth Jury Best Film accolade. They must decide not only which they like, but the one that best serves its target age group. The jury is made up of Lauren Sharpe, Beau Broomhead, Sophie Russell, Danny Battle and Rhiannon Topham.

Beau, aged 17, is currently studying an Interactive Media course with Sheffield Independent Film and TV (SHIFT) and saw the youth jury as an opportunity to find out more about the inner workings of a film festival.

He said: “I applied because I’m a big movie fan and wish to get involved in the film industry. I’m looking forward to meeting other people, getting together and working as a team to decide what film is best and why.”

One of several documentaries in the Youth Jury strand is Against All Odds, a Swiss film following a group of courageous young women facing the stigma and trials of teenage motherhood.

Neukölln Unlimited is a documentary about a group of Lebanese siblings living in Berlin facing deportation. They turn to their artistic talents as musicians and dancers to earn money in a bid to keep the family together.

Louder Than A Bomb is an inspirational documentary about a group of talented kids growing up, speaking out and finding their voice using poetry.

At the other end of the spectrum, Eleanor’s Secret is an animated fantasy adventure about a little boy who discovers the characters in his books come to life at night.

The Crocodiles Strike Back, a sequel to hit German film The Crocodiles, catches up with the crime-busting Crocodile gang.

Visit www.showcomotion.org.uk to book tickets and find out more.