We’re big, big film fans at my library. There is a tradition of watching movies at the library in our town, due almost entirely to an extremely successful adult program called Friday Night Films. Every Friday night, the library hosts two after-hours screenings of a recent film. Admission is free, and patrons can bring their own food or drink or buy popcorn at our cafe. Depending on the movie, there is anywhere from 100 to close to 400 people attending the films on any given Friday night.
People in town expect that they will be able to see movies at the library, and this expectation carries over to the Children’s Department as well. In 2013 I took my love of book-to-film adaptations and together with my esteemed colleague Krishna Grady created RWD, or Read, Watch, Discuss, a book and movie bookgroup for kids. We have a RWD bookgroup three or four times a year, and the discussion is always enlightening. Next week, as a part of our Children’s Book Week celebrations, we’re hosting a very special RWD for A Monster Calls.
Due to the town’s enthusiasm for movie screenings at the library and our own departmental love of all things film, we have also started to build themed “film festivals” for the children in town, hosted on Saturday afternoons or during a break from school. There are benefits to hosting a “film festival” vs just showing a movie. You can build your festival around any theme you like, allowing you to show movies that children in your community may not have been exposed to. The festival idea gives you a built-in marketing hook as well, an easy way to advertise the series to parents and kids. And serializing the program makes it easy for people to remember and attend future films.
In the past few years, we’ve had Women’s History Month film festivals and shown movies for kids with strong female leads like Queen of Katwe and Moana. Our first Black History Month film festival was so popular, we repeated it this year – and the adult Film Librarian joined in too! Not all of our festivals have serious topics. During Spring Break this year, we had a We Heart the 80’s festival, and showed classics we loved as kids, from Labyrinth to The Land Before Time and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to boost your programming stats or you really just want kids to watch The Secret Garden (a perfect movie) then a film festival is perfect for you!