The central event of the rich Animafest 2017 Children and Youth Programme is the Films for Children Competition, an international selection of 47 films from all over the world. The films were selected by the Slovenian media psychologist Martina Peštaj, the editor of Children and Youth Programming with Radio Television Slovenia, who categorised the entries according to their suitability into four age groups (4-7, 7-10, 10-14 and 14+), all clearly marked next to each film.
This year's selection focuses on girls and boys who unexpectedly reveal in themselves the power to change the world surrounding them.
The first section (4-7 years of age) is full of gentle stories about friendship between young protagonists who bravely and aided by small tricks and a big heart take on a mischievous car (Koyaa – Naughty Toy Car), shadows in the night (Misho & Robin "Camping") and a hungry caterpillar (The Little Bird and the Caterpillar). Some of the protagonists, mostly those created by Croatian and Slovenian authors like Ivana Guljašević, Kolja Saksida, Grega Mastnak, Denis Alenti and Vjekoslav Živković, are already known among Animafest's youngest audience, who will surely be thrilled by their latest adventures.
Films for younger school kids (7-10 years of age) carry a simple, but a very important message: We are different yet we are the same. In this section too we find strong protagonists: a girl who uses colours to bring her black and white world to life (Uka) or connects stars like dots (Joining Dots), boys who conquer over storms (Stars; Le jour où j'ai battu le ciel) or birds trying to save their dangerously slanting tree from a weasel (Weasel). This section also shows Hedgehog's Home by Eva Cvijanović – a stop-motion adaptation of Branko Ćopić's iconic poem, a Berlinale award-winning Croatian-Canadian co-production.
The third section (10-14 years of age) contains many humour and action suitable for this age group. Some protagonists rediscover the beauty of nature which they have, living in a world surrounded by modern technology (Deep Beneath the Earth), almost forgotten (The Garden). Others find their true identity and face their special characteristics which make them different and beautiful precisely because of them (Odd Is an Egg; She's Got the Blush). In Brazilian film The End of the Line we also have a chance to see the unique graphic style of the local indigenous population.
The youth programme (14+) is comprehensive and diverse, but what all the films have in common are topics close and important to young people, such as life and death (Leave a Print), building self-respect (Invisible Walls: Tales of Insecurity), private imaginary worlds (Elena and the Shadows), current events (When I Hear the Birds Sing), desires and longings, science sketches (Ampersand) and memories (Letters; Farewell). With loads of suitable humour as icing on the cake.
All in all, this year's vintage in the Films for Children Competition is as diverse as can be: a bit breath-taking, a bit sad, but mostly quite amusing – just like our own lives. All the films convey messages to inspire children and young audiences and encourage them on their way through life and animation art.