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FACETS 38th Annual CICFF offers more than 250 films from 40 countries

FACETS 38th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (CICFF), one of only two Academy Award qualifying international children’s film festivals in the world, announces this year’s tickets are on sale at Presented from Friday, November 5, through Sunday, November 14, FACETS is pleased to offer limited in-person screenings as well as the entire festival available via national streaming.

Every year FACETS’ CICFF is proud to present a diverse selection of high-quality films for children and teens from around the world. For the 2021 season, CICFF’s carefully curated selection of shorts and features presents girls and young women who are powerful and determined and young people who struggle, triumph and are free to express joy through all the stages of growing up.

Two films that are screening at the Festival, which I was able to screen virtually last week, are “Any Day Now” and “Birta.” Both illustrate the resilience, hope and vulnerability of children.

In “Any Day Now,” a family from Iran is anxiously awaiting a letter from immigration saying that they have been granted asylum.

In the meantime, the two school-age brother and sister go about life in Finland—not necessarily without a care in the word—but with the hope that all will be well. They appear to live as refugees in a building where other prospective citizens also live, all waiting for a word from authorities. The parents are happy but probably puzzled when an African couple and their daughter are granted asylum.

There are parties and official government letters asking for more information. There is trepidation on the part of the boy who has just entered junior high when officials visit the classroom to take another student away—until his time comes up.

It is a sweet “coming of age” story caught in the difficult reality of immigration. “Any Day Now” shows the human side of immigration and provides insight into the experiences, challenges and hopes of youth who await news of their status.

“Any Day Now” lives up to its name, although only in the meantime, this family lives—and finally unexpectedly the “and day now” is here, and they are gathered up, detained and prepped for deportation.

RAMIN AND HIS family and their immigration journey are the subject of ‘Any Day Now.’

Any Day Now (Finland); Directed by Hamy Ramezan  • Persian with English Subtitles • 82 Minutes • View Trailer • Recommended for ages 11-14.

Birta, an 11-year-old, overhears her single mom talking about their precarious financial status and determines that Christmas may not happen this year. She decides to take on the responsibility for making Christmas possible for the family and goes on a quest to make enough money before the holidays to help her hard-working mom.

Birta is a charming, persuasive, young entrepreneur with amazing problem-solving skills. She enlists the help of her younger sister and best friend to sell everything from cookies to frozen fish. However, not everything goes as planned. It’s not so easy when one is only 11 years old and trying to keep it all a secret. “Birta” is fun, family entertainment that will melt a frozen holiday heart but also has lessons about the true meaning of giving and importance of honesty.

BIRTA HUGS HER younger sister in a scene from the inspiring film ‘Birta.’

Birta is a busy body, but she is also very much concerned about her mom and the fact that her mom seems to work endlessly. Yes, Christmas is approaching, and after Birta overhears her mother complaining about money, she jumps into action, with the help of an elderly couple living in the building. But she finds out that money isn’t a concern this Christmas season. What the movie unveils is a young girl’s commitment to family, as she searches for ways to make money. She also learns that her fellow human beings—her neighbors in a “melting pot” of a building—are just as compassionate as she is.

This film gives such sensational views of Iceland, especially during the holiday season. But mostly, it shows, again, how teens are affected by home life, even if they are not always verbal about their concerns or are hard pressed to keep their place within the family unit.

Birta (Iceland); Directed by Bragi Thor Hinrisskon • Icelandic with English subtitles • 85 Minutes • View Trailer • Recommended for ages 8 – 14.

Another interesting film is called “Bulado.” Headstrong and determined, 11-year-old Kenza lives with her father and grandfather on a beautifully situated plot of land that doubles as a car wrecking yard on the coast of Curaçao. Her father and grandfather do not see eye to eye. Her dad is a by-the-book police officer with an eye toward the future, which means selling the property and making a quick profit.

KENZA IS THE main character in ‘Bulado,’ screening at the 38th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

Kenza’s grandfather is spiritual, deeply rooted in the past, connected to the land and property and the spirits of their African ancestors. Kenza, still angry and hurting after the loss of her mother, is caught in the middle of her father and grandfather’s ongoing battle. She must find her own way, explore her identity, and find answers to her own questions as she pursues the traditions and practices her grandfather has taught her.

The film is 86 minutes long, the language is Dutch, and it is from the Netherlands/Curaçao. Take a look at the trailer: BULADO Trailer – Bing video.

The in-person screenings will take place at FACETS, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., and Opening Night will be held at the ChiTown Drive-In, 2343 S. Throop St.

The full schedule for the CICFF is available now. General ticket prices are $10 for in-person and $15 for virtual screening, with festival passes and FACETS’ Members discounts available. Ticket buyers should visit to view all the ticket options and to purchase tickets.

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