The Little Big Shots festival is sharing the dream with next generation
Inspiring and meaningful, Little Big Shots offers the best local and international children’s shorts, animations, documentaries and films prdocued by children. Screen NSW catches up with festival director Ben Laden to see what's new with Australia’s largest international film festival for kids as it returns for its 11th year and its 10th year at Sydney Opera House.
The Little Big Shots festival is now in its 11th year, do you feel it's all grown up?
Well I don't think we'll ever grow up totally, but certainly we have learnt a lot about the world and what our audience demands. We also developed the festival a great deal since the early years, building our reputation both here in Australia and internationally. We'll always be kids at heart though.
Can you tell us who the festival is for?
A focus is obviously on introducing young people to the world of cinema and screen culture, but we also entertain parents and grandparents so in a way you could say Little Big Shots is for everyone.
Do you feel there is a big market for children’s films?
Yes, clearly there is when you're looking at the big US studios and their box office results. We are a bit more niche than your average children's film entertainment offerings, but no less important for that.
You're in your 5th year as the festival director, how has your approach to the programming changed over time?
Indeed. Change is inevitable. I think a lot now about the way each of the packages flow from film to film given that we only screen shorts. The placement of each film is probably the most important learning curve that I've taken during my time at the festival.
How do you program for the different age groups and how do you keep things interesting for both kids and adults?
Interesting question. Obviously certain films are made with a target audience in mind and this is a strong guide to where they might be placed in the program. Often though filmmakers will not set out to make a film for kids, but it turns out to be fantastic within the context of the festival. Often films will speak to the audience in several layers and these are of particular interest to me when considering the question of how we entertain both children and their parents. There are many examples of this in the 2015 program that will deliver slightly different messages depending on the age of the viewer.
The way children view and access media has changed so rapidly in the last few years, has this had any noticeable impact on the festival and the submissions entered to the festival?
Yes each year we receive more entries from young filmmakers, which we believe is due in part to the ease of access to the medium and our growing reputation. It is at the very core of our philosophy to not only entertain, but inspire children to explore their own creativity and their relationship with the world through film.
Images: Bear Story, directed Gabriel Osorio, 2014. The Legend of Billy the Pig, directed by Maxim Hussey, 2014. Lune et le Loup, directed by Toma Leroux and Patrick Delage, 2014. Festival director Ben Laden at the 2015 Closing Night.