LINCOLN PARK — A kids' Halloween party included a costume competition and short films Sunday afternoon, all in support of Chicago Children's Film Festival scholarships for underserved youth.
About 150 children and their families filled the space at Park West for the Facets Family Boo! Bash organized by Facets Multimedia, which operates Facets Video, one of the largest distributors of foreign films in the United States; a kids' film camp and the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, the first competitive festival for children's films in the country.
The Children's Film Festival celebrates its 30th year with 288 film showings, chosen out of about 2,000 movies from 50 countries. It runs through Sunday.
Facets co-founder Milos Stehlik said the festival exposes 8,000 kids every year to worlds they wouldn't otherwise see — films that are all paired with an educational component.
"So they begin to learn to look at film and media, that they consume in such quantities, critically," Stehlil said. "That’s really an essential element of everything that we do — to use film as the first step and as the platform for learning."
Imani Whitfield, 11, started her summers at Facets last year and graduated to a kids jury for the film festival in August. But to judge about 100 films for quality, the sixth-grader at Walt Disney Magnet School had to learn to see the subtle details of filmmaking, she told the audience — a set of skills she learned at Facets.
"She started in the [week-long] Facets film camp," Stehlik said. [It's] a really intense immersion in which they go from knowing nothing to learning the language and grammar of film — how to look at film critically — and end up working in teams to create a film of their own."
Exposure to filmmaking and international films has given her daughter a valuable understanding of different cultures, said Imani's mother, Maria Whitfield, a second-grade teacher at the same school Imani attends.
In an effort to provide underserved youth with the same opportunities as Imani and thousands of other Chicago youth, an auction raised money for scholarships that would pay the way for dozens of kids.