The 2nd Athens Int. Children’s Film Festival (ATHICFF, 18–24th November) organised multiple events to make the festival more accessible for target groups that might not find their way to festival cinemas so easily. That could be SOS Children’s villages or kids from remote regions, but just as well babies and… teenagers!
The ATHICFF opening night was an “away-game”, taking the opening film BINTI (with director Frederike Migom and lead actress Bebel Tshiani Baloji) into the SOS Children’s Village in Vari. Besides the premiere, the “villagers” were invited to the full screening programme and other festival activities. Festival guests had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the work of the SOS Children’s Villages. Furthermore children from remote regions in Greece were invited for a field-trip to Athens, to participate in the festival. “By holding the opening event at the SOS Children’s Village and by hosting students from the island of Arki and the village of Pramanta, we intend to bring children’s content and the festival experience to as many children as possible” says President of the Festival Amanda Livanou.
Children up to 3 years old were welcomed at ATHICFF in two very particular events: the Crybaby Matinee (parents with babies watching a film in a baby-friendly atmosphere, together with an understanding audience) and Baby & Me, offering babies and infants their first cinema experience in a well-equipped screening space with soft surfaces, dim lights and low volume.
A much more endangered species in today’s cinemas are teenagers. “This year we presented a daring programme for a 13+ audience, inciting parents to watch films together with their children. The Teen Spirit section speaks the language of the young, with themes and subjects that are not easily discussed at the dinner table” says the Director of the Festival, Calliope Charalambous–Krief.
With sensory-friendly screenings (making the festival more easily accessible for children on the autism spectrum, with appropriate lighting, sound, and distance between the seats) it seems like the special efforts made for the inclusion of specific audience segments in ATHICFF were limitless.