Sunday, October 12, 2008

BendFilm: ReelKids Reel-y Inappropriate

First, I'll say that I am a big fan of BendFilm and independent film in general. The film festival in general has always been a highlight of my year. I take in at least 5 films at each festival, and every year I take my daughter to see the kids' program. It was previously called "IndieKids" but this year it was called "ReelKids". That should have been a signal to me, in retrospect. The ReelKids program today was completely inappropriate for my 6-year old daughter. I have taken her the last 3 years and have always been comfortable with the content of the program. It has included a variety of live-action and animated films from the US and other countries; some with dialogue, some without; all made *for* kids, some made *by* kids. This year there were multiple times I felt totally uncomfortable. In the first 4 films, characters were smoking cigarettes. In one animated film a young boy is flipping channels on a television and sees a mostly naked skeletal drug addict, a "girls gone wild"-type censored scene, and other death/destruction type material which causes him to run out of the house and jump off a cliff. The only redeeming thing is that he "somehow" lands on the moon and sails off into the universe. Another film portrayed a domineering wife demanding her husband fire a penguin from their bird zoo because his act doesn't bring in enough money. Multiple times throughout the movie she torments her husband by telling him he's not "man enough" if he can't tell the penguin he's fired, and promises him special "favors" if he obeys her. Later in the film the manipulative wife is being humiliated in front of a crowd of onlookers and they all laugh at her. The entry that frightened the kids the most was about a ghost that haunts a historic Spanish house where a young boy's parents want to open a Mexican restaurant. This film also included the words "crap" and "stupid" multiple times. And the final insult was the last film. A teenage boy is walking down the sidewalk and sees a plastic grocery bag and *puts it over his head* and falls down on the sidewalk suffocating. Another teenage boy emerges from a house across the street, sees "bag boy" and investigates. Bag Boy jumps up and chases him back into his house, with the bag still on his head, until he corners him in the bathroom. The scared boy pulls the bag off the head of Bag Boy, and he is suddenly "free" and happy and runs out of the house. I can't even tell you what the message was of this film, but I don't need to be walking out of a theater reminding my 6-year old that you don't ever put plastic bags over your head...ever. And that's just the inappropriate stuff I recall from this morning. I will be writing letter to BendFilm organizers explaining my position. I recommend any other parent that attended this showing with their child(ren) and was equally uncomfortable do the same. Let's not have a program like this shown again next year.

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