Bellingham Children’s Film Festival is more than just movies

Lindsey Gerhard, marketing manager at Pickford Film Center, is excited about changes to the annual Bellingham Children’s Film Festival, which runs Thursday, April 30, through May 10.

This year marks the biggest festival yet, she says.

“We’ve expanded our programming to include three feature films, two short-film collections — even a live score,” Gerhard says. “Families can enjoy free art workshops in the lobby, visits from special guests, and the evenings are full of fabulous special events.”

The opening-night party on Thursday includes a red-carpet reception tailored especially for kids, complete with a “cocktail party” consisting of a fresh juice bar and exotic fruit garnishes.

Friday night’s festivities include an ice-cream social with Mallard Ice Cream.

For the first time, the Pickford is offering exclusive screenings of shorts packages throughout the week just for school trips, curated thematically and by age, says Brend Holma, education outreach coordinator at Pickford.

The films come from around the world and will only be available on weekdays for groups. The showings are excellent outings and learning opportunities that come complete with post-screening discussions and journal pages kids can take back to the classroom, Holma says.

“We are always happy to welcome children to our cinemas for a chance to see films as they were meant to be seen,” she says, “in community, on the big screen.”

The short-film programs offer a wide range of themes designed to appeal to pre-K through middle-school students.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 1, 2 and 3, the festival resents “Fantastic Journeys: Animated Shorts,” films for children to “zip around the world with a dazzling selection of high-energy shorts,” Holma says.

After the films, there will be interactive art projects related to the films. Kids, about ages 4 to 12 (in separate groups), will be able to chose from three three-dimensional art projects to create and take home.

With all of the other wonderful events happening this weekend, Bellingham really is the place to be for kids and families, Gerhard says.

“Around PFC, we’ve started calling it ‘Kidtopia!’ We offer a variety of screenings throughout the day, so there is something great happening on our screens at all times this weekend. There is something for everyone of all ages.”