donna g: There is a little gem of a program at Inside Out that many people may not be aware of. I’m talking about your Children’s Program. How many years has Inside Out been programming films for younger viewers and how did the festival realize there was a need for this special program?
Scott Ferguson: We have been programming Children’s films for the past six or so years. We have seen a increase in the number of parents within the LGBT communities over the past decade and it was really important to try to provide opportunities for entire families to come to the Festival and enjoy screenings together.
donna g: How are films selected for this program? You have 3 films in this year’s program, two of which have LGBT content and one that does not. What is the priority (if any) in choosing children’s films for an LGBTT festival?
Scott Ferguson: We look for films with queer content or a queer sensibility. In the past we have screened works like Charlotte’s Web, which isn’t specifically queer but does feature gay icons like Paul Lynde and Debbie Reynolds. Last year we screened the 1970s television special Free To Be You and Me starring Marlo Thomas. This special was groundbreaking in terms of teaching kids acceptance, diversity, and individuality.
donna g: This year Inside Out has a Focus on France spotlight. One of the films in the Children’s Program is the French film, THE RED BALLOON, directed by Albert Lamorisse. This film was released in 1956, while the other two films in the program (BUDDY G, MY TWO MOMS & ME and DOTTIE’S MAGIC POCKETS) are recent releases. What is so special about this film that you chose to include it in the program?
Scott Ferguson: The two recent films in the program are great little kids videos that are by and about queer families but stories like that, aimed specifically at children, are few. We chose the Red Balloon for a few reasons – it fit with our Focus on France, it is rarely seen anymore and there is a newly restored 35mm print of it. Again, it is not an overtly queer story but it does teach about feeling like an outsider and finding your place in the world.
donna g: What do you have to say to English-speaking parents who might be concerned about the inclusion of a French film in this section?
Scott Ferguson: I don’t think it was a concern at all – it’s a children’s classic around the world for a reason. The film has a very simple story line and there is almost no dialogue in it, which makes it easy to follow.
donna g: Are there any plans to expand the Children’s Program for Inside Out’s 20th anniversary year in 2010, or are things fine as they are?
I’d like us to feature a few programs that appeal to different age groups, including toddlers, kids and pre-teens. Our programming choices are always dependent on what films are out there and the financial costs. Hopefully you’ll see more programs in 2010.