The Ryder Film Series kick-started 2017 with what Ryder director and founder Peter LoPilato referred to as an opportunity for people, specifically children, to gain a new perspective on foreign cultures.
During the weekend, Ryder screened a compilation of 22 short films from 14 different countries. The films were originally screened at the four-week-long New York International Children’s Film Festival.
“You certainly have a celebration of diversity,” LoPilato said.
The countries represented within the films included France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Australia, Poland, Brazil, Italy, Russia, Japan, Switzerland, Iran and New Zealand, according to the website. There were also six different films made in the U.S.
There were two different programs screened Saturday and Sunday, LoPilato said.
The first program was targeted at audiences ages 3 to 7, and the second for ages 8 to 80, according to the website. The Saturday screening took place at the IU Fine Arts Theater, and the Sunday screening was at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, LoPilato said.
There is no difference between the content featured in the Saturday screening and the Sunday screening.
This is the sixth anniversary of the Ryder Film Series showcasing films from this festival in Bloomington, and LoPilato said the event is always popular with children and their families. He said films the Ryder Film Series screens weekly are typically not children-oriented, so this festival helps to broaden its audience.
LoPilato said he believes the timeliness was also in the festival’s favor for the event. Schools were not in session because of winter break, which allowed more people to attend. He said the festival was split into two days in order to attract a larger number of attendees.
“If you have young kids, and they’ve been hanging around your house for two weeks, and you see the opportunity to take them out for a couple of hours and occupy them in a good way, you’re probably going to jump on that,” LoPilato said.
Children attending the screenings responded both verbally and physically to the films they saw on-screen.
Despite the fact that some of the films in the first program featured foreign languages without subtitles, the inquiries made by the children focused on the films’ plots and characters, not the language barrier.
Films featured in the program include “Me ... Jane,” an American animated biopic on primatologist Jane Goodall; “My Grandfather Was a Cherry Tree,” a Russian animated film depicting a grandfather-grandson relationship; and “Memories of the Sea,” a live-action Brazilian film about a child trying to come to terms with the serious changes occurring within his family.
Some of the attendees, including Joanna Woronkowicz, who attended with her son Wallace Ausborn, were big fans of movies.
“It was a cool day, and what else do you do on cool days?” Woronkowicz said.
Regardless of whether the films are made internationally or domestically, Woronkowicz said she believes it is important to expose oneself to all kinds of films.
“We really appreciate the creativity and art of film,” Woronkowicz said. “That was really my reasoning for bringing him to this program.”
Because of the cultural diversity represented within the 22 films, LoPilato said he believes presenting international films to children and families can have a positive effect on the viewers even after the screening is over.
“The films in general tend to be a little more challenging not just for younger kids but even for teenagers,” LoPilato said. “They all certainly spark discussion afterwards with their parents, a conversation that will continue outside the movie theater.”