Meet Anisa Raoof: Director of The Providence Children’s Film Festival

September 17, 2014

“At PCFF, we try to bring the world to our children, through important films made from extraordinary, largely unrecognized filmmakers from all over the globe.”

What has been most fulfilling about working with The Providence Children’s Film Festival?

The PCFF mission taps into my own personal passions and dovetails well with what I have created with Kidoinfo—creating and/or supporting meaningful events that bring families together to learn about other worlds and art forms—to share ideas and to make connections in real life.

I have been involved with the festival since the beginning, first as a media sponsor and an attendee with my family and beginning in 2012 as a board member. I have a deep commitment to see this organization succeed because of its community value and impact and personally because it is one of my family’s favorite annual events—my husband and I are movie fans and our sons have been obsessed with film since they were in preschool (watching, reviewing, and now making their own movies).

I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to take a leadership role in the growth of what has become, in less than six years, a much-treasured provider of alternative programming in the arts and humanities for Rhode Island youth and families.

How did the festival begin?

The festival was started by a group of parents passionate about film, committed to providing quality independent films appropriate for kids from around the world and beyond the everyday mass marketed cinema plex films and ancillary merchandise. From the beginning PCFF has also provided unique opportunities to explore filmmaking through hands-on workshops and deepen the movie watching experience with post-film conversations and presentations.

To carry out our goal of inspiring the next generation of filmmakers, storytellers, critical thinkers, and community leaders, we have gradually expanded programming during and outside the festival.

How do you select which films to screen in the festival? Is there a jury?

At PCFF, we try to bring the world to our children, through important films made from extraordinary, largely unrecognized filmmakers from all over the globe and post-film conversations to deepen our understanding and increase our capacity for empathy.

We select films that will resonate with kids of all ages – films that tell a story, are well crafted, and / or share an important message. And many of the films we show would never have an opportunity to screen locally because the distributor or filmmaker have minimal marketing dollars and often can’t compete for screen time with big blockbuster movies.

All films in the festival go though a jury selection process. Our jury is comprised of adults and children who watch and review the films rating them on multiple facets of filmmaking (acting, directing, cinematography, sound, editing…along with festival suitability). Unlike other festivals, we educate, encourage and value the youth jury because we believe that their opinion as a viewer is important and by developing their ability to evaluate the quality of a film across multiple criteria and then advise whether the film is even suitable for the Providence Children’s Film Festival develops children’s critical thinking skills. This is an important piece of our jury process and film literacy.

We are now planning the 2015 festival with new venues and some exciting new partnerships. The 2015 festival will be February 12-22, 2015. We are now accepting film submissions for the 2015 festival AND the 2nd Annual Youth Filmmaker Showcase (YFS) – films made by youth ages 5-17. For more information about the festival and how to submit a film, visit www.pcffri.org.

What is your favorite film from your childhood?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, from 1968.

Although I have many films that I love from my childhood and even more now that I have kids and screen numerous films for the festival, I will choose one of my favorite movies I watched when I was young because of the fond memories watching it with my family and because it is clever, imaginative, fun and reminds me of the power of storytelling— a good story when told with vivid detail can transport us to another world that is exciting but can also be scary and challenging. In the end the kids have to rely on their own resourcefulness and with the help of others they overcome obstacles. And who doesn’t love a flying car?

 To see a list of other children’s film festivals, check out  the Audience Awards’ list of “Best Children’s Film Festivals in the U.S.

 

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