RIFF spotlights youth films

The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival (RIFF), now in its fourth year, presents the inaugural Kids Film Fest at the Ridgefield Theater Barn April 27. Headlining a lineup designed for children and families from animated and live auction features to documentary films is the South African film “Liyana” and the East Coast premiere of the uplifting Canadian documentary “Band Geeks.”

“We had such positive feedback from our RIFF family-oriented film programming last season that we thought, ‘Why wait until October?’ So this spring, we’re launching a one-day film festival geared to children and families,” RIFF executive director Geoffrey Morris said.
Festival Director Megan Smith-Harris said, “exposing children to inventive, age-appropriate films from around the world is integral to engaging them in the arts. I’m particularly excited this year to include RIFF Redux, two short films created by Ridgefield students in grades four to six that screened at RIFF in the fall.”
The daylong festival will include five sections: film shorts, the Ridgefield young filmmakers’ screenings, international shorts, the feature documentary (“Band Geeks”) and the international feature (“Liyana”). “Liyana” centers on five orphans in the Kingdom of eSwanti (formerly known as Swaziland) who turn past trauma into an original tale about a girl, Liyana, who undertakes a dangerous mission to save her young twin brothers. “Band Geeks” follows the Burlington Teen Tour Band on its quest to make it to the Rose Parade.

Area filmmakers Dave Berman of Westchester County and Dave Goldenberg of Ridgefield, who were both producers at Nickelodeon, taught film making to two groups of Ridgefield middle schoolers last fall and the students’ films will again be shown here. The films are about eight minutes each and titled “The Misadventures of Goldilocks and the Three Boys...and Let’s Not Forget Little Red Riding Hood” and “Best Friends Forever and Ever.” They were filmed locally and several local businesses, residents and a local cemetery make cameo appearances.
“The most surprising takeaway for me was the kids’ creativity and enthusiasm with the project,” Berman said of working with the students. “It wasn’t so much of a surprise as much as it was refreshing. Kids are inherently creative and have wonderful imaginations. The challenge we faced in the production was taking the ideas that the group came up with and translating it into something that was executable in the limited amount of time that we had.”
Goldenberg said kids watch films but they also make films and those who see themselves as filmmakers will learn how to watch films with a more critical eye. “These days every kid has a film studio in his or her pocket, and we help them learn how to use it. Learning how to tell a story in a way that understands what the audience is watching is a very important part of growing up, learning to see through the eyes of the people you are talking to.”
For more information or tickets, visit www.RIFFct.org.