TIFF Kids: Teaching students about environment preservation through the power of film

While the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is primarily known for the September film festival, they also host the TIFF Kids International Film Festival (April 8 to 24). In its 19th year, it has become one of the most important film festivals in the world for children ages 3 to 13, and will be showing 139 films from 35 different countries.

It also provides specific programming for schools and teachers that coincide with the Ontario curriculum.  The Festival School Programme offers a diverse selection of features, documentaries, and short-film programmes that foster creativity, develop media-literacy skills, and encourage critical thinking in areas including diversity, social justice, and equity. We also have programming that touches on Science and Environmental Issues, and English Language and Literacy.

Some films highlights focused on the promotion of environmental awareness:

  • Oddball dir. Stuart McDonald, Australia, English (In this heartwarming tale that highlights the importance of conservation and respecting the environment, an Australian chicken farmer, his 10-year-old granddaughter and his mischievous sheepdog, Oddball, set out to protect a colony of fairy penguins from extinction.) Grades 3-5
  • Pien, Queen of the Bees (Pien de bijenkoningin), dir. Ellen Vloet, Netherlands, Dutch with English subtitles (Ten-year-old Pien is on a mission: to save bees from extinction. While she tends to her own bees in her backyard by ensuring their hive conditions are optimal for reproduction, she is also fighting another battle; Pien has bone cancer and even though medical treatment has prevented her from taking her bees on a trip to the nectar fields, she is determined not to give up either fight.) Grades 4-6
  • Norma’s Story, dir. Alex Hawley, Canada, English (This film tells the true story of Norma, who has experienced dramatic changes in her life over just a few decades due to the impact of climate change on the wildlife that sustains the Gwich’in First Nation and other northern communities.) Ages 10 and up

Teachers are provided with with educational resources for each film, including Ontario Curriculum approved exercises students can do ahead of time and guest experts facilitate post-film discussions with the students.

You can see the school lineup here: http://tiff.net/festivals/tiffkids16/school.