Gubitosi has grown youth film festival globally

When Claudio Gubitosi was 17, he got an idea for an event exploring what was then the obscure ghettolike world of cinema for kids.

Gubitosi’s inspiration germinated into Giffoni, the planet’s prime fixture for children’s cinema, a celebration of kids and moviemaking based in the small town of Giffoni Valle Piana, Italy.

Driven by his vision, what began as a tiny showcase for kiddie pics from Northern Europe and the then-Soviet Union has flourished over four decades into a year-round cultural enterprise centered around its defining concept: “There are no spectators at Giffoni, just protagonists.”

This year, Giffoni’s 39th edition doubled in length to two weeks — the first focused on ages 3-12, the second on 13 all the way to 21. No longer just a fest, the newly rebranded Giffoni Experience hosted 2,800 jurors ages 3-17 from 42 countries as guests of local families, along with such stars as Eva Mendes, Naomi Watts, Christina Ricci and Wynona Ryder, who made the trek not to tubthump their latest films but rather to conduct master classes at this unique cinematic camp.

With a wide web of global offshoots, including Giffoni Australia, and cross-border activities, such as a European Youth Media confab held by Gubitosi last week in Warsaw, Giffoni stands as testimony to the limitless growth that constant reinvention can bring. The irony is that now, “Seventeen is the age best represented at Giffoni, as well as the age I was when I conceived it,” Gubitosi observes.

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