Get ready for some incredibly inspiring films this year at NYICFF. Photo courtesy of NYICFF
Get ready for some incredibly inspiring films this year at NYICFF. Photo courtesy of NYICFF

28 Great Kids' Movies from Around the World Come to NYC This Month

Who needs Sundance, or even Cannes? The 2020 New York International Children's Film Festival unspools this month in NYC, and we have all the info you need to enjoy it to the max, in an easily digestible format (there's a banquet out there). This is one fest where kids' opinions count: If you go, be sure to grab a ballot and vote on the films you've seen.

Read on for the full 411 on this year's fab films, including how to score discounted tickets. Popcorn mandatory.

The 2020 New York International Children's Film Festival runs from February 21 to March 15, with films showing at seven venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Films are presented in English unless otherwise noted, and we've sorted the festival's offerings by recommended age to highlight the best options for preschoolers, school-aged kids, and tweens. Click through to the event listings below for full details about showtimes. 

General admission tickets are $14.50, while special events and talks are $17.50-$20.50.  And while films often sell out, we're here to tell you it's often worthwhile to join the waiting list, which begins 30 minutes prior to screening start time. The odds are good you'll score seats if you're at the front of the line.

The whole festival culminates in a Best of Fest Party at SVA on March 14, a special screening and party showcasing the top nominees. Cheer on the award winners as they are announced, and join the party when the lights come up.

All Ages

DisneyNature's Dolphin Reef (US)
Sunday, March 15, 1:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Natalie Portman narrates the story of Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin who's more interested in exploring his coral reef home than learning how to survive in it.

DisneyNature's Elephant (US)
Saturday, March 14, 11:15am, at SVA, Chelsea
African elephant Shani and her son Jomo make an epic journey hundreds of miles across the Kalahari Desert.

SamSam (Belgium/France)
Saturday, February 29, 10:45am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Sunday, March 8, 10:45pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 15, 11am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
In this animated film - shown in English - a mysterious new kid helps SamSam uncover an "anti-monster" power.

NYICFF Rocks: Musical Shorts
Saturday, February 22, 1:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 11:15am & Saturday, March 7, 11am, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Toe-tapping and seat-swaying are definitely encouraged in this spirited global tour of musical shorts. Bop alongside ShalaBonBon’s pop-inspired Japanese beat, swing with Cabaret-era jazz in the wacky I Have a Little Cactus (Germany), and get squirrely with excitement following Maestro’s lead (France).

 

RELATED: Kids' Film Fests and Indie Movie Theatres in NYC 


The Moomins latest capers light up the NYICFF screens

Best for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

Shorts For Tots
Saturday, February 23; Saturday, February 29; Sunday, March 1; Saturday, March 14; and Sunday, March 15 at 10:45am at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, February 22, 10:45am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, March 7-Sunday, March 8, 11am at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens
Sunday, March 8, 11am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
Saturday, March 7, 11am, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
This year's popular short film series for younger audiences includesThe Snail and the Whale (UK), the latest from NYICFF alum Magic Light Pictures (Zog) with the charming voice of Sally Hawkins, Overboard! (Czech Republic), which pairs hilariously kooky creatures, and Om Nom Nom… (Japan), which trails a gobbling dinosaur, and more films that will fill appetites hungry for delight.

Hilda (UK/US/Canada)
Saturday, February 22; and Sunday, March 8, 3pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, February 29, 1pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
The BAFTA award-winning Netflix Original series, inspired by Luke Pearson’s hugely popular graphic novels, returns to NYICFF with the world premiere of Season Two. Catch sneak peeks of “Troll Circle” and “The Witch,” two truly enchanting adventures!

Moominvalley (Finland/UK)
Saturday, February 22, 11am, and Saturday, March 14, 1pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, March 1, 11am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, March 7, 10:45am, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, March 16 at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
Artist/novelist Tove Jansson’s cuddly, quasi-philosophical, not-quite-hippo creatures have a huge international following. This exciting new animated series brings the Moomintroll family to vivid life as they adventure through the mystical islets and fjords of their glacial world.

Celebrate Aardman! A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (UK)
Saturday, February 22, 3:30pm; and Sunday, March 8, 11:45am, at SVA, Chelsea
Catch an exclusive theatrical presentation of Shaun the Sheep’s latest feature adventure (premiering on Netflix February 14th), alongside new and classic Aardman shorts!

Short Films 1
Saturday, February 22, 11:15am; Sunday, March 1, 3:15pm; Sunday, March 8, 1pm; Sunday, March 15, 12:30pm at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, February 23, 10:45pm at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, February 29, 11am at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 10:45am at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
Saturday, March 7, 12:30pm at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens
Saturday, March 14, 10:45am at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Aimed at at a slightly older audience than Shorts for Tots, this screening of short films brims with stories full of growth and transformation. A rather wild menagerie of animals competes for the gold in the series Athleticus (France). It’s a mad dash to wrap the season in The Last Day of Autumn (France/Switzerland), and the sky’s the limit for one boy’s journey through generations in the lofty and lovely The Kite (Czech Republic).
 


 Hippos bounce on trampolines in Athleticus, one of the featured shorts in Short Films 1

Best for Kids (Ages 6-9)

Fahim, the Little Chess Prince (France)
Sunday, February 23, 3:45pm & Sunday, March 1, 2:45pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 1:45pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Fahim journeys from Bangladesh to France with his father and seeks to train with a chess grandmaster. In French, with English subtitles.

Forward: Tomorrow Belongs to Us (France)
Saturday, February 22, 4:45pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 3:15pm, at Cinepolis, Chelsea
Saturday, March 14, 11am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
Seven incredible young activists from around the world display unwavering courage to transform our future in this new documentary. In French, Spanish, and other languages, with English subtitles.

Fritzi: A Revolutionary Tale (Germany/Belgium/Luxembourg/Czech Republic)
Saturday, February 29, 2:30pm & Saturday, March 14, 1:45pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 11:30am, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Summer 1989, East Germany. While her best friend, Sophie, visits Hungary, twelve-year-old Fritzi lovingly watches her dog, Sputnik. In English.

Magic Boy (Japan)
Saturday, February 29, 5pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, March 8, 10:45am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
This Festival Flashback is a groundbreaker: the first-ever anime film released in the US (from renowned Toei Studios). In English.

The Prince's Voyage (France/Luxembourg/Canada)
Sunday, February 23, 1:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 10:45am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Brooklyn
Sunday, March 8, 10:45am, at Cinepolis Cinema
Celebrated filmmaker Jean-François Laguionie (The Painting, NYICFF 2012) returns to the Festival with yet another beautifully animated, mesmerizing film. When a monkey prince washes ashore, Tom and his scientist parents take him in. In French, with English subtitles.

Rocca Changes the World (Germany)
Saturday, February 29, 3pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 5:30pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 15, 10:45pm, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
A modern-day, punk rock Pippi Longstocking, Rocca comes from a family of astronauts—but she’s no space cadet. In German, with English subtitles.

Too Far Away (Germany)
Saturday, February 22, 2:45pm & Saturday, February 29, 12:31pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, March 1, 4:30pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 12:30pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Eleven-year-old Ben loves his hometown, especially his soccer club, where he practices for hours each day. When he and his neighbors are forced to move, he struggles to fit in at a new school. In German, with English subtitles.

¡Hola NYICFF! Shorts in Spanish
Saturday, February 29, 11am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, March 7, 4:45pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, March 8, 11:15am, at Cinepolis Chelsea
The fest's new annual program brings the best stories from Latin America, the Carribean, Spain, and the US. Get your (soccer) kicks on the way to school in 3feet (Columbia), orbit a mother’s love in Ailin on the Moon (Argentina), and watch things grow curiouser in The Size of Things (Columbia).

Short Films 2
Saturday, February 22, 12:45pm & Saturday, March 7, 2:45pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, February 23, 11am at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, February 29, 5pm & Sunday, March 8, 1:45pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 12:45pm, Saturday, March 14, 3pm & Sunday, March 15, 3:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 8, 12:30pm at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens
Fresh treats and new challenges await kids ages 8-14 in Short Films 2. Life in a castle sounds like a piece of cake, but not for Violette, who misses her Parisian apartment in My Life in Versailles. Meanwhile, Trude’s Flatmate is a monster. Literally. And chaos is in store when she tries to keep its sugar fix in check. Keep flying high with And yet we’re not superheroes, an animated confection from Belgium and France.

Animators All Around
Saturday, February 29, 5pm at SVA, Chelsea
Learn how animation goes from inspiration to sketch to screen from the creators themselves in this very special presentation, chock-a-block with film clips and stories about finding your artistic voice and vision. This year's headliner in Jill Culton, director of Abominable.

Friends and Neighbors: Japan
Saturday, February 29, 12:30pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 11:45am & Saturday, March 7, 3pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Celebrate Japan’s rich film and cultural history in a breathtaking range of styles: the hand-drawn artistry of master animator and NYICFF alum Koji Yamamura’s world premiere, Dreams into Drawing, the stop-motion nod to traditional Japanese puppetry in Gon, the Little Fox, and the manga-style zaps, zings, and pows of Onomatopoeia Rap, and more.

RELATED: The Best Children's Theater This Winter in NYC


Nuit Cherie, featured in Short Films 3, is drenched in color.

Best for Tweens (Ages 10-13)

Opening Night: Children of the Sea (Japan)
Friday, February 21, 6:30pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Also Sunday, March 8, 2pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Adapted from the acclaimed manga comes this visually dazzling, mind-bending aquatic mystery. In Japanese, with English subtitles

Bento Harassment (Japan)
Sunday, February 23, 12:30pm & Sunday, March 8, 5pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 11am, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Futaba’s mother is tired of her teen’s icy attitude, so she's trying an unusual tactic to get her to talk—by way of her bento lunch box. For an entire school term, Futaba opens box after box, each designed with its own cringe-worthy message. An offbeat story of growing up, Bento Harassment will leave audiences laughing…and hungry. In Japanese, with English subtitles.

The Club of Ugly Children (Netherlands)
Saturday, February 29, 11:30am & Sunday, March 1, 1pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Sunday, March 7, 3pm, at SVA, Chelsea
This action-packed thriller unfolds in a world led by a new president whose motto, “Keep it Clean,” means rounding up kids who don’t meet his view of ideal citizens. In Dutch, with English subtitles.

Days of the Bagnold Summer (UK)
Saturday, February 29, 2:45pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Sunday, March 8, 3:30pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Sunday, March 15, 5:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
When his vacation plans tank, Ben faces another dull summer in his quiet town. Battling boredom, he auditions for a rock band whose members turn out to be a little, well, littler than expected.

On-Gaku: Our Sound
Saturday, February 22, 5pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
Saturday, February 29, 2pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 11am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
From grunge to genius, On-Gaku turns it up to eleven musically and visually! In Japanese, with English subtitles.

Girls’ POV
Saturday, February 22, 11am, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Downtown Brooklyn
Saturday, February 29, 2:30pm & Saturday, March 7, 4:45pm at Cinepolis Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 5:30pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, March 14, 11:15am, at IFC Center, Greenwich Village
The voices of these protagonists are strong and loud—as they should be! Don’t underestimate the soft-spoken girl in the hilarious Shy & Ketchup (Chile), and take a cue from I Want (Germany), where even the colors are loud. Listen to a daughter reclaim her mother’s voice in Accents (Australia), and follow a girl as she forges her own path in The Coin (China).

Boys Beyond Boundaries
Saturday, February 29, 12pm; Sunday, March 1, 1:45pm & Saturday, March 7, 1pm at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 14, 12:45pm, at SVA, Chelsea
You can redraw boundaries or break right through, as these films demonstrate so brilliantly. The animated love letter from a son to a father to a friend in Grab My Hand (US) reminds us that there’s no good reason to let affection go unspoken, while My Grandfather’s Memory Book (US) proves that sometimes images speak volumes.

Heebie Jeebies
Sunday, February 23, 5:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Sunday, March 1, 5pm; Saturday, March 7, 5pm & Sunday, March 8, 3:45pm at Cinepolis Chelsea
Freaky, fun, and far, far out, the always mind-bending Heebie Jeebies returns with more slightly spooky tales. Badgers have had enough fear-mongering and plot their dark-of-night escape in Quarantine (UK), and bedtime routines turn truly bizarre in Sheep, Wolf and a Cup of Tea…(France) Not strange enough? Watch a kid team up with Sasquatch to reclaim the wild in Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) (Canada).

Short Films 3
Sunday, February 23, 3:15pm, at SVA, Chelsea
Saturday, February 29, 4:30pm & Sunday, March 1, 2:15pm, at Cinepolis Chelsea
Saturday, March 7, 12:45pm & Saturday, March 14, 2:45pm, at Scandinavia House, Murray Hill
You’ve outgrown the kiddie pool, so take a dive into these often offbeat, at times hilarious, always thought-provoking shorts. Follow the stories of an insomniac bear and monkey on a mission (did we mention the mini Yeti?) in Nuit Cherie (Belgium/France), and the Italian-born Senegalese teen questioning her identity in The School Trip (Italy).

The New York International Children's Film Festival is playing at these theaters:
SVA, 333 West 23rd Street
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave, Queens
IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas (at West 3rd Street)
Cinepolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 445 Albee Sq. West, Brooklyn
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (between 37th & 38th Streets)

 


SVA
333 W 23rd St
New York, NY

Scandinavia House
53 Park Avenue
New York, NY

Quad Cinema
34 W 13th St
New York, NY

Museum of the Moving Image
35 Avenue at 37th St.
Astoria, NY 11106

IFC Center
323 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014

Cinepolis Theater
260 w . 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn
445 Albee Square West
Brooklyn , NY 11201
Jack and the Beanstalk
Puppetworks Inc. - 12:30 PM Pick
Art Lab in the Park
Queens Museum - 1:00 PM Pick
Mommy Poppins' Back to School Fair 2020
Online - various times Pick
Monuments Now
Socrates Sculpture Park - 9:00 AM
Carnegie Diner Pumpkin Patch
Carnegie Diner - 9:00 AM
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