Calling all movie lovers, young and less young! The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF), the largest annual film festival entirely for kids, is back for its 37th year with films the entire family (ages 2 & up) will enjoy. Read on to find out how to enjoy these flicks that range from feature-length live-action to child-produced from the comforts of your sofa. How lucky are we that CIFCC calls Chicago home?


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From November 13-November 22, Chicago families have the unique opportunity to virtually screen 264 films from 52 countries.

Within the film selections, you’ll see topics covering international perspectives, anti-bullying, refugees and immigration, LGBTQIA+, girls’ point-of-view, finding your voice and STEM. The films are breathtaking in their beauty, skill and innovation and give kids the opportunity to engage with empathy-driven storytelling that speaks directly to their experiences.

They operate the fest under the core belief that by presenting diverse programming with high artistic value that reflects the current culture of today’s kids and teens, they can create a platform that empowers them to form a deeper engagement with the world.

A Quick History
After a series of multi-cultural film exhibitions for children, Facets, a leading national media arts and education organization based in Chicago, began the annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival to both recognize excellence in children’s filmmaking and to bring culturally diverse films to America. The Festival was the first children’s film festival to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which means films screened at CICFF can go on to win Oscars®.

Every year the films are judged by both an adult and children’s jury and awards are given at the end in various categories. The Festival is open to both the general public and educators and has helped springboard classroom discussions since its inception. 

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

How to Watch
Typically the festival spreads out across the city to theaters such as Facets in Lincoln Park, Music Box Theatre, Davis Theater, Alliance Francais de Chicago and University of Chicago Logan Center in Hyde Park. 

The Bottom Dollar
Tickets purchased prior to Oct. 30 are given early-bird discounts and FACETS members and school groups receive a discount throughout the fest. Starting Oct. 31, general public prices are $15/single ticket, $50/public pass valid for up to four programs and a $250/public super pass grants you access to the entire festival. Single tickets can be purchased from the Virtual Festival Catalog and passes can be purchased on the Pass Page.


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Just a Taste of the Films You’ll See
Many of the feature films showcased are highly anticipated and considered the world’s best. Among these, you’ll find 2040, which imagines a future of climate change and ways to address and solve the issue. You’ll be introduced to a girl enjoying life in the country and the changes that occur when her father’s fiancee and daughter move in, shaking things up in Dreambuilders.

Dreamers Wanted is a documentary that includes animation and live-action for kids ages 8-10 that takes a look at youth pursuing their hobbies and aspirations while building on their sense of empowerment along the way.

One timely film to add to your list is Postcards to Myself, an animated film for ages 13 & up that looks at mental well-being and the process of overcoming isolation by finding a support system.


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Good to Know
No matter your kiddo’s film interest, you’re bound to find something that piques their interest—animated features, child-produced shorts, documentary short films, live-action features and more! (Even some that will appeal to the teens in your house.)

Don’t Miss This Fest!
CICFF is the largest film festival in Chicago and whether you dedicate a week to it or squeeze in a show or two in between your other commitments, it’s worth the effort. This is a great way to experience other cultures without leaving our own great city—or your living room.

For more information and to purchase tickets or the Festival Family Pass, visit

— Maria Chambers & Amy Bizzarri

Featured photo: Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels


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