Astra Film Junior, the pioneering documentary film education program initiated in Romania back in 2009, is all set to welcome children and teenagers from October 16th to 22nd, at the 30th Astra Film Festival. The line-up features some of the latest and most highly-regarded narrative documentary films, tailored to engage three different age brackets: 6+, 11+, and 15+.
According to Dumitru Budrala, the founder-director of Astra Film Festival, the festival has since its inception in 1993 been instrumental in building an audience for a previously untapped film genre. Budrala stated, «Children and teenagers consume a great deal of audiovisual content, but very little cinema. Our aim with this ‘festival within a festival’ is to reintroduce them to the magic of documentary films.»
For the younger audience (6+), the program promises a rich variety, from animated films to those discussing contemporary global issues. These films, projected in an immersive full-dome cinema 360, offer perspectives on topics like climate change and space. One such production, 9andahalf’s Goodbye, sheds light on a 10-year-old explaining natural phenomena to his younger sibling.
The middle-school category (11+) showcases films about young achievers. Stories revolve around environmental activism, civic responsibility, and themes like social inclusion, racial discrimination, and the implications of global warming. Also on offer are films about the wonders of astronomy, projected in full-dome 360.
High school students (15+) can look forward to films addressing topics that resonate with their age group. From online ethics to the challenges of virtual and real-world sustainability, these films provide a mirror to their concerns.
Complementing the screenings, the festival will host the comic strip competition, a vibrant project that encourages audiences to dive deeper into the narratives they’ve witnessed. Additionally, the «Profession: Educator» initiative offers a special screening of În cancelarie/The Teachers’ Lounge by Ilker Catak, spotlighting the trials of a young teacher against the backdrop of an institutionalized system.
For those aspiring to learn the craft, the Documentary Film Workshop, in partnership with the National University of Theatre and Cinematographic Art I.L. Caragiale, is a must-attend. This workshop, designed for 18-25-year-olds, is an opportunity to learn documentary filmmaking from industry stalwarts.