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MVFF Unveils Children’s FilmFest Lineup

Four films anchor October event’s children’s programming, built around the theme of Circus Dreams and featuring a costume parade in San Rafael.

Of the of to at the over the years, can anyone top Elmo for star power?

The California Film Institute (CFI), organizers of the annual film extravaganza, unveiled the lineup of children’s programming for the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival this week, with a documentary about the man behind the famous Sesame Street character leading the way. The festival is set for Oct. 6-16.

The event’s Children’s FilmFest, in its 17th year, features four films, an overarching theme of “circus dreams,” kids’ workshops and a costumed parade led by a jazz band in downtown San Rafael.

Being Elmo, which is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, tells the story of Kevin Clash, the creator and puppeteer of Elmo. The film features a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop, as well as interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell and Cheryl Henson.

While Elmo is the biggest name on the children’s docket, the youth-driven Circus Smirkus, in which , is its anchor. Circus Dreams, a documentary about the traveling circus group made up of performers between the ages of 12 and 18, reveals the inner workings and culture surrounding the life of a traveling circus group.

Right after the first San Rafael screening of the film, a circus-themed parade embarks around the Smith Rafael Film Center, with stilt walkers, clowns, jugglers, live horse and bareback riders. Organizers encourage attendees of all ages to attend the screening and parade dressed in circus-themed costumes.

The other two children’s films, Magic Silver and Light of the River, are in foreign languages – Japanese and Norwegian, respectively - but will be shown with a live English translation with headphones for children in some theaters.

Magic Silver, a Norwegian live-action film, is about a young gnome named Princess Bluerose who lives deep in the Norwegian mountains and must go on an adventure to find the stolen magic silver. Gnomes use the magic silver to transition between daylight and night.

The Japanese animated film Light of the River follows a family of rats who are forced to move to the city after their riverbank home is destroyed by a construction project. The family now has to make new friends, learn the unfamiliar territory, and fight off the numerous dangers as they search to find a home.

The 411: The 34th Mill Valley Film Festival is held Oct. 6-16, with the full lineup unveiled in mid September. Tickets, which go on sale to the public Sept. 19, are $10 general admission, both kids and adults, for Children’s FilmFest programs. Organizers also offer the Children’s FilmFest Flex Pass, which allows filmgoers to enjoy four admissions for Children’s FilmFest film programs and for admission to the children’s party in the second weekend of the fest for $25. 

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