Held throughout Central Florida each April, Florida Film Festival presents more than 180 feature-length and short films from 40 countries, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, and parties. This year’s Festival includes competing films in narrative features and documentary programs, plus special screenings of food films, music movies, experimental shorts, international films, midnight movies, and Florida films.

Though focused primarily on movies for adults, in keeping with its annual tradition, the Florida Film Festival also offers a family programming sidebar with unique new independently produced movies appropriate for youngsters. In addition, the Spotlight Films category contains another film that children will enjoy – a documentary about Fred Rogers and his long-running television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Family Programming

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…

Making its Southeast premiere at The Florida Film Festival, this adaptation of the director’s own graphic novel includes hand-drawn 2-D animation. The film is comprised of three separate tales presented as a stage play by the Honeysuckle Farm Theatre Company. Complete with non-stop action and quirky talking animals, each story has a farm setting with reappearing animals that includes a mother hen, a pig, a duck, a rabbit, and a fox. The film is in French with English subtitles, but the universal action depicted on the screen tells its own story of cooperation and understanding that goes beyond words. Directed by Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert (animator). Run Time: 83 minutes. MPAA Rating: G.

Lu Over the Wall

Set in a small Japanese fishing village, this animated feature tells the story of 14-year-old Kai, a child of recently divorced parents who withdraws into music to deal with his grief. When he joins a band that practices by Merfolk Island, Kai meets Lu, a high-spirited mermaid with an enchanting singing voice. When the suspicious villagers learn of Lu’s existence, they are divided between wanting to exploit her to revive the fishing village and fearing her presence because of a legendary curse. The film, filled with lively music and fluid Japanese anime, looks at how the magical young mermaid not only changes one boy’s life, but an entire village. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Stars the voices of Kanon Tani, Shota Shimoda, Shin’ichi Shinohara, Akira Emoto, Soma Saito, Minako Kotobuki. Run Time: 112 minutes. MPAA Rating: PG (for some peril and thematic elements).

Family Friendly Spotlight Film

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

This documentary examines television icon Fred Rogers, who helped children understand some of life’s challenges and deal with their own emotions through his calm words of wisdom. His television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for more than three decades, often using puppetry to deliver its messages. His inclusive idea that all of us belong to a global neighborhood was way ahead of its time. Directed by Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville. Stars Fred Rogers (in archival footage), Joanne Rogers, Francois Scarborough Clemmons, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Negri, and David Newell. Run Time: 94 minutes. This film is unrated.

By akagami