20th International Film Festival for Children and Young Audience, Chemnitz
Germany, October 5 - October 11 2015
The Schlingel film festival for children and young audiences celebrated its 20th edition this year. With 156 films from 46 countries it is now the biggest film event of its kind in Germany.
Founder and director Michael Harbauer remembers how it started in 1996 as something extremely basic – just one screen and a couple of blockbusters. “The idea came to me when my son was born. In my youth I went to see films all Sunday, and I thought he should be able to have that same experience. I got some people together, found a 35mm projector and started showing films for children in a culture club.”
That became the place for the first two editions of the festival. Then, in 1998, a new multiplex opened. When Harbauer was asked whether he might be interested in organizing a festival there, he didn’t have to think twice before saying “Yes!”
A special feature of the festival are the educational activities. For Harbauer this comes quite natural when working with kids. “You not only want to show films, but also open their eyes and make them understand more about film. What is real, what is a fairy tale, how films can make you laugh and cry.” Therefore, the festival also organises workshops. After watching a film, the children can discover, for example, how a green screen works. Or they can learn how to make television. At the closing ceremony, five eight-year-olds proudly presented an animation film which they had made during the festival.
Also, the festival likes to emphasize that for children films can be a window to the world. Harbauer remembers how his parents used to tell him that in order to learn more about the world you can travel, but you can also read books and watch films.
The co-operation with schools is important as well. Many classes use the opportunity to come and watch films. More than half of the attendance at Schlingel can be attributed to such organised school visits. During the festival there is a symposium for teachers, this year focusing on the topic of violence in movies.
All this does not stop when the festival is over. One of the activities is the Kinderfilmhaus, a small cinema for children with 30 seats, where screenings and workshops are organized all year round. It has its own website, where a group of children publishes their reviews.
For use in schools every year a special DVD is produced where a film is complemented by educational materials for pupils and teachers.
Schlingel also encourages the German distribution and television screenings of foreign children’s movies, and takes German films to foreign festivals. “Recently we showed four German films at the Tel Aviv Children’s Film Festival. Next year we are going to Tokyo.”
When asked what he is most proud of Harbauer replies: “To see the emotion in the eyes of the children.”
The 2015 edition of the Schlingel festival featured 156 films from 46 countries, aiming at age groups from four years to teenagers. The total attendance this year was approximately 17,500 visits.
Schlingel has competitions for feature films, animation and shorts. Alongside the four adult juries, the films are also judged by three children’s juries, among them the European Children’s Jury, consisting of 18 children from 9 countries.
The Finnish/Estonian production Secret Society of Souptown (Supilinna Salaselts) by Margus Paju got the audience award. The main prize of the Professional Jury for international features went to Enclave by Goran Radovanovic, which is also Serbia’s Oscar entry. The FIPRESCI jury also awarded Enclave. The European Children’s Jury awarded the Hungarian film Paw (Mancs) by Róbert Pejó. (Leo Bankersen, edited by Birgit Beumers)
International Film Festival for Children and Young Audience, Chemnitz: