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Framed Film Festival brings innovative children's cinema to London

The Barbican's Framed Film Festival has an ambitious remit.

This weekend, the Barbican is launching Framed Film Festival, a new initiative aiming to bring diverse international films to a young audience.

Children’s film festivals have grown increasingly popular in recent years, notably London Children’s Film Festival with which the Barbican have collaborated in the past. Yet Framed is indicative of a new approach which seeks to engage a much wider audience. Children as young as 4 will be catered for with family-activites and screenings, whilst an extensive programme of events and workshops is being put in place for teenagers and young adults.

“We’ve want to go further and target a much wider age group than previous children’s film festivals” notes Susie Evans, Barbican’s cinema curator. “In particular, the 12-25 year old age group has to be catered for in a better way. There are so many young people in London who don’t get access to international film and opportunities into the industry, and we are in a unique opportunity to reach them. Through the festivals, they’ll have the chance to see what they like, what they don’t – that’s why tickets are so cheap – they start at £3, so that young people can take risks.”

One distinguishing aspect of this festival is the host of workshops alongside it. Each day, there is a selection of creative learning and educational opportunities. These include filmmaking and annimation workshops, screenwriting masterclasses and specialist classes in film criticism and reviewing.

The significant challenges of pursuing a career in the film industry will be addressed as well, with specific incentives to motivate young people who demonstrate a talent and interest in this area. “There is no formal way of getting into the film industry at the moment” explains Evans. “With all the BFI film council changes coming up, that might change, but right now you either know someone in the industry who can help you, or you just get plain lucky”.

In light of this, this Sunday the Barbican are running a BAFTA- supported afternoon where a panel of young film practitioners will lead interactive discussion on how they got started, and provide industry insights for budding young film makers in the audience. “There’ll be panel discussions, opportunities to see clips of work, insights into how to get into the industry, and plenty of advice for young people interested in film”.

Encouraging an appreciation for a diverse range of film is also part of the Barbican’s creative learning remit:

We’re also trying to get a new audience for international features that wouldn’t necessarily be shown in this country at all. There’s such a wealth of fantastic cinema out there – German and Scandinavian film are, in particular, really strong on the domestic children’s film industry, but because they’re subtitled, British distributors just aren’t picking them up. We’re tying to show young people that they can experience cinema from a lot of different countries and cultures - they just might have to look a bit harder.  

Framed Film Festival is on from 17th November – 25th at the Barbican Centre.

Kamila Kocialkowska is a freelance journalist based in London.