If you’ve had enough of lame kids’ movies that seem to have been produced just to sell toys (ahem, Emoji Movie and Smurfs), then cleanse your palate with one of the 100-plus features and shorts being screened at this year’s New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYCIFF). What started out as a scrappy little festival 21 years ago has become a must-see for artsy New York families—call it the Cannes of kids’ film fests.
And just as the fabulous filmgoers at Cannes mix their in-theater time with plenty of other revelry, you and your kiddos should make a day of your festival experience. Our fun family itinerary centers around the screenings of White Fang but works for many of the NYICFF offerings.
Stop 1: Explore the National Museum of Math
First up, a visit to Madison Square Park’s MoMath (11 East 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues). Some of the interactive activities in this kid-favorite museum include riding a bike with square tires, learning about statistics via a robotic basketball shooter, and creating patterns out of shapes at the Tessellation Station. (Shhh, if you don’t tell them it’s about math, they’ll just think it’s one of the coolest museums they’ve ever been to.)
Stop 2: Lunch at Eataly
Since the NYICFF celebrates movies from all across the globe, you’ll want to indulge in an international lunch—but it still has to be something your kids will eat. Take a three-minute walk over to the legendary Italian food hall Eataly (200 Fifth Avenue at West 23rd Street). Make your way through the crowds to La Pizza & La Pasta, the most kid-friendly of Eataly’s six restaurants, where you can feast on Napoli-style thin-crust pizzas or fresh pastas made in-house, including the addictive agnolotti and ravioli.
Stop 3: NYCIFF Screening – White Fang
It’s movie time! Walk off that pasta or take a quick cab ride west to the SVA Theatre for the NYICFF’s screening of White Fang. Based on the classic Jack London novel about the adventures of a sled dog during the Gold Rush, White Fang marks Oscar-winning short film director Alexandre Espigares’s feature debut. The gorgeous animation looks to be almost cubist in its glistening portrayal of the Pacific Northwest; you’ll appreciate the artistry as much as your kids will enjoy the fast-paced drama.
Stop 4: Sweet Treat at the Doughnuttery
Finish up with dessert at Doughnuttery in Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Avenue between West 15th and 16th Streets). Kids will love watching the piping-hot mini doughnuts roll off the conveyer belt before getting dipped in the topping of their choice (options range from traditional rainbow sprinkles and powdered sugar to the more exotic orange zest, maple bacon, or even Sriracha-maple-lime). Impressed by the Great North scenery in White Fang? Bring your bag of doughnuts to the High Line, where you can munch on them while contemplating the best view of all: the New York City skyline.
NYICFF: White Fang Screening
SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), Chelsea
Saturday, February 24, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 3, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 11, 12:30 p.m.
$14 for GA; $17 for special events/talks