Copyright. Square-Eyes 2009. All Rights Reserved


The wonderful New Zealand International Film Festival is once again upon us, with great films in store, providing an entertaining and engrossing cinematic experience for children and adults alike. We look forward to seeing your square eyes at the following sessions.


Ireland/France/Belgium, Tomm Moore
2008, 75 mins
Recommended ages 6 to adult


THE SECRET OF KELLS has been hailed by international critics as one of the most beautiful and graphically unique films in recent memory, and picked up the audience award at Edinburgh on top of previous win at Annecy.

Young Brendan lives in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost, where he labors with the other monks to fortify the abbey walls against Viking raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when one day a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands, carrying a ancient - but unfinished - book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him for the first time beyond the abbey's walls and into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf/girl, who helps him along the way. But with the Viking hordes closing in, will Brendan's artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against barbarians?

"Stunning! A cascade of light, color and wonder burst from the screen!" - The Irish Times

"Absolutely Luscious to Behold!" - Variety

"A gorgeously realized fable about the power of imagination and art to thrive even in the most hostile times. Immediately establishes Moore as an absolute master of his craft - a story teller and visual artist who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as masters such as Michel Ocelot and Sylvain Chomet." - Twitch

Please Note: Dark scenes of mythical beasts and raiding warriors may be too intense for youngest audiences.


United States, Henry Selick
2009, 100 mins
PG scary scenes, mild language
Recommended ages 9 to adult

CORALINE is a story for children, but also a delight for adults who still value a story well told and hand-crafted aesthetics. Directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) from the novel by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is the work of two visionaries who turn out to be blessedly compatible.

Definitely more Brothers Grimm than Walt Disney, this film is for young adults (Square Eyes recommends 9+) and adults who can appreciate the experience of a movie that falls on the darker side of the fairytale spectrum.

This creative and absorbing parable acknowledges that real life can sometimes be creepy, and spooky. The filmmakers contend that there is nothing wrong with a children's story that is willing to show the world for how it really is.

It is an edgy PG rating, vaulting past a G rating because of its scary imagery, and the film is certainly not for every child. But for those who think their children are mature enough to handle the film, they will find Coraline a significant addition to children's lore, even with scary surprises’Äîwhich are countered by stunning beauty and rousing virtue.

Depending on the child's maturity level’Äîand ability to distinguish fiction from reality’Äîscary fairy tales can allow children to work through their fears and come out on the other side braver, wiser and more resilient, having learned valuable lessons. Younger or less emotionally mature children may not fare quite so well after visiting such a dark-yet-beautiful modern fairy tale. It is a decision only a parent can make.

’ÄúSelick's take on Gaiman fulfills the notion that the eyes are the windows to the soul; kids of all ages will open peepers wide for this one. " Groucho Reviews

"An inventive and invigorating stop-motion tour down the rabbit hole of childhood anxieties, Coraline is a movie Wednesday Addams would love. Well, Wednesday and anyone who loves her; if you have a pre-teen who's drawn to alt-comics, smart books, dark clothing, and general pop culture subversion, the movie will be his or her Wonderland. (That age group includes grown-ups too)." Cinelation


Japan, Miyazaki Hayao
2008, 101 mins
In Japanese with English subtitles
G rated, Recommended ages 5 to adult

From Academy Award-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’Äôs fairy tale ’ÄúThe Little Mermaid.’Äů Miyazaki embellishes Andersen's tale, creating a story that incorporates a lovely relationship between parent and child, and touches on childhood fears about loss, separation and mortality, as well as environmental concerns.

A mysterious fish-girl, fleeing from her oppressive father who keeps her locked up under the sea, finds herself rescued by Sosuke, a five-year old who names her Ponyo and finds himself determined to care for her. Naturally, her father is similarly determined to get her back - and keep her from becoming human.

Hayao Miyazaki's body of work is celebrated across the globe, practically worshipped by the Japanese, and deeply respected by an army of artists, directors, writers and all other sorts of creative professionals, many of whom claim Miyazaki as a deep and fundamental influence on their work. In an age where much of our animation has grown increasingly photorealistic, there’Äôs nothing like a traditional hand drawn adventure to remind you of the power the art form still holds. As we have come to expect, his hand-painted images are exquisite, and the film is a visual treat. The draughtsmanship is jaw-dropping, and Miyzaki's ability to express extremes of emotion in his child characters without resorting to sentimentality is remarkable.

"It's hard to think of another of Miyazaki's films aside from My Neighbor Totoro that will absolutely, unequivocally thrill a younger audience. This film cannot be recommended to families with children enough." AnimeNewsNetwork

"He's learned the secret language of children, and speaks to them as one gifted five-year-old to his enthralled peers. That's how an anime veteran turns animation into ani-magic." Time

"The great director again proves his peerless ability to connect with the keen perception and heart of a young child, while creating a world that speaks truths to adults as well."


Various, 2008
72 mins, G cert
Recommended ages 3 to 7


A delightful alternative to the commercial focus of Saturday morning TV, this programme of animated short film is returned to the hands of artists and storytellers. This programme continues to be a Festival favourite year after year - so book fast to ensure your seats.

See our 2011 Film Festivals programme here.
See our 2008 Film Festivals programme here.
See our 2007 Film Festivals programme here.
See our 2006 Film Festivals programme here.

Square Eyes
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All Rights Reserved.