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LUCAS International Children's Film Festival 2005 report by Oscar Foran

Choo Choo 3

Mongolian Ping Pong
This is the first year of the LUCAS festival returning to annual status instead of the bi-annual status it has maintained over the last number of years. A festival that only runs every other year, especially at a time of year when it is quite busy for festivals, can sometimes slip under the radar a wee bit and this is a festival that deserves prominence.

This is a very compact festival in that all the movies can be viewed in one cinema (also a film museum), there was fantastic support from the local schools and the cinema was overflowing at almost every show with kids. From a judging perspective it was invaluable to have the added criteria of how the children reacted to the film to help inform our decisions.

As this is an A-Class festival the standard was high indeed, unusually there was a mixture of shorts, animations and feature-length movies. This of course meant that there was a diverse cross-section of directors there to represent the films and each evening there was a discussion group held in the museum concerning the film industry in general. Problems of funding, recognition and distribution of movies were discussed at length. Because there were directors from as far afield as Beijing, Sri-Lanka and India it provided a pretty fascinating insight into the machinations of the film industry globally.

These discussions were continued informally over dinner and drinks late into the night and I came back a substantially more informed person. Of the movies themselves the two Asian movies featured very strongly indeed. As you would expect, they were exquisitely shot and although intended for a young audience definitely have adult appeal also. The animations in the festival programme were particularly strong, as evidenced by our voting the Russian animation CHOO CHOO 3 the winner. The Scandinavian animation EIN SUMMER MIT MUSIK was highly praised as well.

Deciding the eventual winners proved particularly difficult, it was reassuring to see that the Lucas jury, which comprises of both children and adults thought along similar lines to the CIFFE and FICC juries. It's always in the back of your mind that you don't actually think like a child anymore and that the basis of your consideration may be out of step with that of a younger audience so it's good to know that I'm as immature as ever!

Congratulatory piece read out at the Festival Awards: "We have chosen to give the Don Quixote award to a movie, CHOO CHOO 3 by Garri Bardine / Russia / 2004 / 30 minutes / Animation which intrigues and beguiles from the first frame. Themes of childhood jealousy and the wisdom of working together are married beautifully with a perfectly syncopated soundtrack. Such a simple moral in some ways, presented in a humorous and easily digestible animated form for children, a task that can be so difficult."

A Special Mention was given by the IFFS/FICC jury to MONGOLIAN PING PONG (Lü cao di) by Ning Hao / China / 2005 / 102 minutes "Cinema exists to excite the imagination and reveal new worlds, this movie takes the simple notion of an old ping pong ball and transforms it into something fantastic and alien. Exquisite camera-work and subtle acting help trap us in the movie¹s world of imagination right Œtill the eye-opening end!"

Oscar Foran is a member of Waterfordfilmforall and travelled to the festival as part of the IFFS jury.