FACETS hosts some of the screenings for the Chicago International Children's Film Festival at its headquarters. Credit: Provided/Trainman Photography

LINCOLN PARK — The nation’s oldest children’s film festival kicks off its 40th year Friday night.

The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, which began in 1984, is hosted by FACETS, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., an organization that aims to broaden adults’ and children’s perspectives through cinematic work.

Opening night will run from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., and will include a reception, an array of short films and a special guest appearance by filmmaker Matthew Cherry

Cherry, creator of the 2020 Academy Award-winning short film “Hair Love” about an African American father trying to do his daughter’s hair for the first time, is being honored with the CICFF Inspire Award. The award is given to a filmmaker who inspires others to create empowering films for youth. 

The fest runs through Nov. 19 at multiple locations around the city. Discussions and learning experiences accompany most screenings; age categories range from 2-5 to 14+.

Scheduled screenings include:  

  • Storytellers 1, an event for kids ages 6-8 to learn about friendship, persistence and conflict resolution through eight short films. It features a dance floor for kids, and parents can purchase mimosas. The event is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at FACETS
  • My First Movies, featuring 10 screenings for kids 2-5 to engage in their first cinema experience, with themes of friendship and problem solving. Giveaways and a dim theater make the space kid-friendly. The screenings start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at AMC Newcity 14, 1500 N. Clybourn Ave. 
  • Animation Celebration, featuring two screenings for those ages 8-14, with multiple animation stations where kids can learn from international animators, 9:30 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Chicago History Museum.
  • Pivot Points, a screening of four films for kids 14 and older, featuring themes of family, grief and loss to spark pivotal conversations. The event takes place 9:45 a.m. Nov. 16 at FACETS

Multiple juries will issue the festival awards Nov. 9. Films previously screened at this festival have received Academy Award nominations in Best Animated and Best Live-Action Short Film categories. 

“This year marks the 40th annual FACETS’ CICFF, celebrating the past, present and future of youth cinema from around the world,” Deidre Searcy, FACETS’ festival program director, said in a statement. “We are delighted to shine a spotlight and roll out the red carpet for the best films produced for young people ages 2-18 and their families.”

A full schedule is available on the festival’s website. Tickets are $25 for opening night and $12 for single tickets. Bundle packages are also available. There are in-person and virtual screenings throughout the event. 

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