Homemade Rainy Day Film Festivals – Part 1


With summer coming and kids home from school, playing outdoors is what vacations are made of.  But when stormy days hit and everyone is itching for sunny weather again, parents scramble for indoor activities to keep everyone amused and ignoring the windows.

As an idea, how about putting on a Homemade Rainy Day [your last name here] Film Festival?

In this series of blog posts, I’ll be offering line-ups of some great Canadian-made videos available online, so you don’t even have to leave the house.  The National Film Board and Bravo!FACT are constantly uploading videos to their online libraries, and best of all, they’re available free for public viewing.

Here’s how to put on the Homemade Rainy Day [your last name here] Film Festival.

Step 1:

Materials required
large address labels
things to draw with

If kids are smaller, get them busy with making their own festival badges.  I would recommend colouring on large address labels so you can stick them on shirts and nobody gets stuck by nametag badge pins or potentially caught in the string that goes around one’s neck.  I highly advise against using glitter, since you can’t go outside in rainy weather to shake it off.

Step 2:
While kids are occupied with the make-busy craft, you can have some time to devote to tech setup.

Materials required
screen + Internet connection

Depending on the tools available to you, you can gather around the computer screen, hook up the computer to the television with an HDMI cable, watch off your video game console, or connect your mobile device to the television with any output cables or AppleTV (for iOS devices).  Since today’s blog is entirely based on the National Film Board (NFB) film collection, you can choose whether to access it through the website at www.nfb.ca or through free mobile apps available to download.

Step 3:
Load up on healthy snacks.

Materials required
healthy snacks

I would recommend snacks that don’t melt or stain easily, since these will be eaten in relatively low light.

Step 4:
Dim lights.  Play movies.

If you trust the pre-existing playlists, you can access the Ottawa International Animation Festival playlist off the website here, or if you go through the iPad app, you can use the Films For Kids section.  There’s also an Oscars section, though you’d probably have to pre-screen these to see if they’re suitable for your brood.

Film festivals (at home or professionally established ones) are great for introducing kids to new styles of animation, one-off story pieces and material that’s new to them and wouldn’t necessarily be broadcast at popular air times.

In between loading the next film (just use the search function), get kids to do micro-exercising, like “who can do the most jumping jacks” for two minutes.  It’ll get some of the excess energy out.

Here are some of my favourite films:

Jaime Lo, small and shy, Lillian Chan, 2006, 7 minutes, 48 seconds
The first time I saw this film, I actually cried.  The sweet little story is about a girl (an “astronaut kid”) who misses her father because he’s gone to work in Hong Kong.  There’s a unique and beautiful style to the animation, and to boot, the music is done by Kid Koala.

The Cat Came Back, Cordell Baker, 1988, 7 minutes, 41 seconds
To immigrant families who or younger kids who haven’t had exposure to these NFB classics, watching some of these films is just part of being Canadian.  The Cat Came Back may be a little cartoony-violent for some, but the catchy song keeps it lighthearted and in good fun.

Canada Vignettes:  Log Driver’s Waltz, John Weldon, 1979, 3 minutes
Don’t let the old age of this film scare you off, as little kids might love the coordinated choreographed efforts of the log driver, and its famous theme song.

Juke-Bar, Martin Barry, 1989, 10 minutes, 25 seconds
To Anglophones, don’t let the French description scare you off.  Actually, in either language, there’s no significant dialogue in this classic piece about roaches who take over a jukebox for an epic party.

Getting Started, Richard Condie, 1979, 12 minutes, 22 seconds
This is a quirky little animated film about a guy who needs to get practising on the piano, and takes up every distraction possible.

The Girl Who Hated Books, Jo Meuris, 2006, 7 minutes, 21 seconds
A short and rather poignant film about the imaginary worlds of books, this elegantly concise story follows Meena and her cat Max as they learn to appreciate reading.

Asthma Tech, Jonathan Ng, 2006, 7 minutes, 9 seconds
You may want to check out the rest of the Talespinners 2 collection, but this is a cool animated film about a boy who uses his illness and being trapped indoors as a way to do something great.

The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin, Janet Perlman, 1981, 9 minutes, 57 seconds
There’s a little bit of cartoon violence in this rendition of the classic fairy tale adapted for punchy penguins, but it’s quite entertaining overall.

The Sand Castle, Co Hoedeman, 1977, 13 minutes, 17 seconds
Winner of an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, this is the strange and classic tale of the sandman and his creatures.

The Chinese Violin, Joe Chang, 2002, 8 minutes, 21 seconds
This animated story follows a young girl and her father as they use the Chinese violin (or erhu) to connect to their roots and pave the way for their future.

For Older Kids

The Necktie, Jean-François Lévesque, 2008, 12 minutes, 17 seconds
This is the story of a boring man who lives a humdrum life but finds solace in his accordion.  The film might be more kid-friendly than for kids, but because it’s stop-motion, it has a special place in my heart.  Explain to your kids that each frame is one photograph and likely everything in that film is made by hand.

Madame Tutli-Putli, Chris Lavis, Maciek Szcerbowski, 2007, 17 minutes, 15 seconds
Nominated for an Academy Award, this beautiful yet haunting film follows the journey of a woman travelling by herself on a rather ghostly night train.  Again, this is another stop-motion piece, but with digitally composited eyes from a real actress.

My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts, Torill Kove, 1999, 10 minutes, 3 seconds
I’m not quite sure how historically accurate this animated film is, but it’s very entertaining.

For more of my playlist suggestions, keep checking back here for my upcoming blogs.



Image Source: Online Short Films