Oulu kids fest celebrates 30th birthday

Finnish event screens 100 films from 27 countries

Finland’s Oulu Intl. Children’s and Youth Festival marked its 30th birthday Monday with a program of Finnish and foreign films suitable for children as young as 18 months.

The fest, which launched in the northern Finnish town in 1982, has remained true to its original aim, said Pentti Kejonen, the event’s first director.

“A children’s film festival without children would be strange,” Kejonen said. “That which an adult finds fascinating and beautiful might be just plain boring to a child. Adults might find some new aspects to a film when they watch it with children.”

This year’s edition screens 100 films from 27 countries with a major focus on Danish films and highlights that include screenings of nostalgic 16 mm prints of Danish children’s classics “Buster’s World,” “Otto Is a Rhino,” “Samson and Sally” and “Twist and Shout.”

There is a two-day seminar on media education on Wednesday and Thursday that looks at the Danish model of media education with cinema consultants including Jacob Breuning from the Danish Film Institute.

The festival also features the world premiere of Finnish children’s comedy “Mr. Hayhill and the Lion Wind Vane” well in advance of its official Christmas exhibition bow.

Among six kudos are the ECFA (European Children’s Film Assn.) award, first presented last year, which will be given to the best European children’s movie of the international competition. And for the first time the best youth pic will also be selected from films participating in the Growing Pains — Youth Film Competition.

Mika Anttolainen, the Oulu festival coordinator, told Variety: “The festival takes local people on trips around the world to wonderful, different cultures and situations that we here just below the Arctic Circle could not even imagine.

“During the last five years, the festival has grown each year both in terms of the size of the program and the number of visitors. Last year’s festival had 16,500 visitors in a city of 140,000 people.”

The festival closes Sunday.