2018 Childish Films at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival

We’re just weeks away from the 2018 Childish Films at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Every year, I look forward to the two weekends in April when I get to binge-watch movies. This experience has made me into a kids film buff and I look for these same films when they (sometimes) make it to streaming. My kids may think they want to watch the latest toy-inspired blockbuster, but they always walk away from these picks telling me it was the “best movie ever”. Unfortunately, not all of these movies ever make it to the U.S. beyond the film festival circuit, so it really is a treat to get to see them in the theater.

The 2018 Childish Films line up takes us to meet children around the world, including Tibet, Belgium, Brazil, Sweden, Netherlands, Kenya, France. This year’s films have several reoccurring themes. While we are learning about new cultures, the characters themselves also adventure to new places. They travel from Tibet to China, Belgium to Swedish Lapland, the Netherlands to South America, and from France to South Africa. Most of these films feature beautiful landscapes.

Other repeating themes include leaving behind the familiar, chasing dreams, reconnecting with estranged parents, and coming of age. This year there is also a good old-fashioned ghost story tossed in. In past years, it has been fun to compare how children everywhere are alike while also observing cultural and environmental differences.

Most of the following films have a minimum age recommendation of 9 to 11. Cloudboy is recommended for 8+. Since only one of the films has any English dialogue, these recommendations are good guides simply because of the reading requirements. Foreign films are best enjoyed by strong readers, but they also help strengthen reading skills, so don’t shy away if your kids are on the young side of the recommendations.

Ticket prices for these films are $14 for the general public and $8 for youth. The film society offers a family membership level, you can read my review of that deal here. Find more information and tickets here.

Ballad from Tibet

In this story, four blind children set off across the country from the  Tibetan plateau to Lhasa. Where they board a plane to Shenzen China to be on  China’s Got Talent. If my research is correct, the walking portion is approximately 1200 miles. It would be the equivalent of four children traveling from Minneapolis to the far side of Texas. Then getting on a plane without chaperones and flying to Durango, Mexico. Oh, and did I mention that they have one working eye between them? This implausible tale is reportedly based on a true story, but possibly more “inspired” by an appearance of 9 blind Tibetan Students on China’s Got Talent in 2010. I still think the rest is fiction. True or not, this adventure film features the landscapes of Tibet and China.

  • Sun, Apr 15; 12:00 PM
  • Sun, Apr 22; 2:00 PM
  • Director: Zhang Wei
  • Runtime: 84 min
  • Age Recommendation: 9+
  • Language: Mandarin and Tibetan
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: China


Cloudboy is a summer adventure movie. When 12-year-old Niilas reluctantly and sullenly leaves his home in Belgium to spend a summer with his mother in Lapland, Sweden, he finds himself immersed in a culture he never expected, reconnects with his mother and has the summer of his lifetime.
  • Sun, Apr 15 2:15 PM
  • Sun, Apr 22 10:00 AM
  • Director: Meikeminne Clinckspoor
  • Runtime: 78 min
  • Age Recommendation: 8+
  • Language: Dutch, Swedish and Saami
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway

 On Wheels

On Wheels is the story of Brazilian teens, Lucas and Lais. Lucas is is adapting to life in a wheelchair after a severe accident, while Lais is missing the father she’s never met. The two decide to set out on their bikes to find Lais’s father.

  • Sun, Apr 22 12:00 PM
  • Sat, Apr 28 12:00 PM
  • Director: Mauro D’Addio
  • Runtime: 72 min
  • Age Recommendation: 9+
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: Brazil

Room 213

In the spirit of sleep-away camp horror films, this is a story of three girls who find their room may be haunted and must learn a 60-year-old secret of what happened in that room. Maybe I’m just a big baby, but this trailer creeped me out and I can’t imagine letting my almost-teen watch this, but then again, I let her watch Stranger Things. You be the judge, watch the trailer and see what you think.

  • Sat, Apr 14 2:15 PM
  • Sat, Apr 21 12:00 PM
  • Director: Emelie Lindblom
  • Runtime: 80 min
  • Age Recommendation: 11+
  • Language: Swedish
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: Sweden

Sing Song

Sing Song a musical film about a 16-year-old Dutch girl, Jasmine, who has a chance to enter a singing contest in Suriname, South America, which also happens to be her birth place. She jumps at the chance with homes that she may also find her birth mother, but has to lie to her father to do it.

  • Sat, Apr 14 12:00 PM
  • Sat, Apr 21 2:20 PM
  • Director: Mischa Kamp
  • Runtime: 96 min
  • Age Recommendation: 11+
  • Language: Dutch
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: Netherlands

Supa Modo

Super Modo is the story of Jo, a young Kenyan girl with cancer who has come home from the hospital to die. To help make her wish to be a superhero come true, Jo’s sister involves the entire village in a scheme to make Jo believe she has special powers. This film looks incredibly sweet, but I would expect to leave the theater crying, childhood cancer movies can be uplifting, but rarely end happy. If you want to bring smaller kids, I’d pick this one. It has enough English in it that a younger kid could probably follow it and the theme is really cute.

  • Sat, Apr 14 10:00 AM
  • Sat, Apr 28 10:00 AM
  • Director: Likarion Wainaina
  • Runtime: 74min
  • Age Recommendation: 9+
  • Language: English, Swahili, Kikuyu
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: Kenya and Germany


13-year-old Ady is sent to his father’s childhood home of Burkina Faso in Africa. Ady faces culture shock adjusting from his first world home to the different expectations of his West African family in this coming of age adventure film.

  • Sun, Apr 15 10:00 AM
  • Sat, Apr 21 10:00 AM
  • Director: Berni Goldblat
  • Runtime: 84 min
  • Age Recommendation: 11+
  • Language: French, Dyula
  • Release Year: 2017
  • Country: France and Burkina Faso


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