Screenies, a film festival just for youth, will be entertaining us from September 22-25 at TAPAC in Auckland. It’s the second annual Children’s International Film Festival Aotearoa, and there are some amazing films on the bill.

Aimed at young people up to 15 years old, Screenies encourages us to seek out and celebrate the positive aspects of other cultures. This year, the featured films touch on some important topics. These include family bonding, sibling love, overcoming bullying at school and how to face personal problems.

We caught up with Janette Howe, founder and director of Screenies, to ask her what to look out for in this year’s festival!

What are you most excited about for Screenies this year? 

That we are back! Last year was our first year so it was a huge effort to get it happening  now it will be great to see how we can build on last year and get even more people through the door! I want it to have something for all ages; people making films in one part of the building or doing hands-on workshops while the films are playing to an audience. 

What are your top three highlight films, and why? 

I love our feature films –  T.I.M. is about a boy and a robot in a kind of retro-future/steampunk era from the Netherlands. The relationship between the boy and the robot is really interesting and you really believe it!

Hordur from Germany is a really gritty film (rated M) about the realities of being an immigrant growing up in Europe. Because it’s from the point of view of a young teenager, it is an inside story to all the news reports you see, so I really like that perspective.

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey  is a NZ film from 1988 made by one of our top filmmakers, Vincent Ward. From The Guardian: “Almost three decades later, the film is still gobsmacking to watch and shows no signs of ageing. It is the sort of head trip that leaves audiences gasping for air and critics lunging for adjectives. Turns of phrase such as “visual poetry” are sometimes synonymous with “boring” or “plot-less.” That’s certainly not the case here: this is a jaw-dropping experience up there with cinema’s best out-of-world experiences.” 

Apart from watching films, what other fun things are there to do at the festival?

We have a film-making intensive for 13+, so if you are into making films and want to do it from start to finis,h then this is a great opportunity. You might be thinking about the 48 Hour film festival or just want to try out film-making…  it’s collaborative and that might be challenging but that is what happens when you are making a film and we hope new producers/directors actors and editors will be discovered!

Everyone can learn from films! What is an interesting fact you’ve learned from one of this year’s films?

That ducklings bond with the first person they see! A young girl is given a duckling egg by her father in Birds of Passage (Les Oiseaux de Passage) but her disabled friend ends up being the one to bond with it and her protective parents aren’t too keen on her new role as a mother to a duckling.

Birds of Passage Screenies 2016 - 18:8:16 - TWA

What are some of the themes and issues explored in the festival this year?

Bullying is one theme that is really strong – in Hordur it reaches a point where there is a violent act in retaliation. Independence and friendship is another – from two girls going out in the world to find a duckling their parents took away, to a boy and his best friend robot travelling across the countryside to get it fixed. 

How can film be a positive force in the world?

Film is about coming together to share a story – which is as old as telling stories around a fire – so it’s about sharing an experience collectively in a festival like Screenies. That’s when the magic can happen and you experience a memorable moment or character that changes the way you see the world or yourself.


For more information about Screenies, the films featuring in the festival, the film review competition and Screenies events, visit or email [email protected].