Filmmakers Collaborative, an organization that supports the independent media community through funding and programming opportunities, will soon celebrate one decade since its first annual Boston International Kids Film Festival (BIKFF). The 11th BIKFF takes place from November 10-12 at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, Massachusetts.
This year’s family-friendly lineup includes two feature length films and nearly 60 shorts. The filmmakers featured are a mix of professional and student creators, from 12 different countries.
Through the three day film festival, its adjacent workshops and Q&As and a year-round kids filmmaking program: FC Academy, Filmmakers Collaborative helps inspire the next generation of filmmakers.
Executive Director of BIKFF, Laura Azevedo, says the film festival first started as a way to introduce young people and their families to independent films made for kids.
What makes this year special, she says, are the unique demonstrations of young filmmakers expressing themselves, producing what she describes as “window[s] into what’s on [their] minds.”
“Our Turn to Talk” will kick off the festival on Friday, Nov. 10 at 3:00 p.m. The hour-long documentary focuses on the inception of a podcast discussing teen mental health. The second feature, “Superpower Dogs,” will take place at 7:00 that night. “Superpower Dogs” focuses on puppies around the world trained in becoming specialized service dogs. There will be a live demonstration from service dogs in conjunction with the screening, one of a few interactive elements taking place over the weekend.
Highlights from Saturday’s events include student-made documentaries like “Different, Not Less,” a spoken journal entry demonstrating the filmmaker’s journey in accepting her late autism diagnosis at the age of 17. Later screening blocks focus on student-made short animations and student-made narratives.
Azevedo says she finds herself “constantly amazed at the level of curiosity and care and thoughtfulness” students put into their films, as well as the respect those involved show one another.
The youngest filmmaker featured in this year’s festival is 10 years old.
“They’re just following their passion. They’re really young and they’re willing to do incredible research to tell the story of their documentary.”
Sunday’s lineup gears towards kids ten and under, starting with a series of short animations. In the middle of the day, actress turned filmmaker Tanya Wright (“Orange Is the New Black”) will be speaking and presenting her film “Goodnight, Hairiette.”
In an essay she penned after BIKFF’s first film festival in 2013, former Co-director Kathryn Dietz wrote of an eventual goal to have a year-long initiative focused on introducing media literacy and filmmaking to kids, which would culminate in the festival, each November. That goal has since been realized in FC Academy, a program that runs after school, through school vacations and during summer break for students aged kindergarten through eighth grade.
The FC Academy constantly seeks new instructors to show young filmmakers the ropes, recruiting students from local film schools like Emerson College as well as those with professional filmmaking backgrounds.
As for what it’s like for young filmmakers to experience having their films shown on the big screen, Azevedo says, “It’s their time to shine… whether they held the clapper on set or played the lead, they were an important part of the team in making this film happen. And I just think that’s something that deserves to be celebrated across the board.” She says she is proud to play a small role in making that happen.
“[Ultimately], it’s not even the filmmaking aspect that we’re trying to encourage. We’re trying to encourage everything else that goes into making a film that I truly believe will make a student a better-rounded student … a more well-rounded communicator, a more enlightened consumer, which makes you potentially a better member of your community, because you will realize you have a voice.”