There's nothing like escaping into a wonderful movie that takes your imagination to another place, another world or another time. And that goes for adults and children alike. That's why I highly recommend that families see the French animated movie Eleanor's Secret (or Kérity, La Maison des Contes) - in the language of your choice.
Eleanor's Secret features a seven-year-old boy, Nathaniel (Nat), who loves books and is just on the verge of reading all on his own. When his beloved aunt Eleanor dies, she leaves Nat and his family her coastal home where they vacationed every summer. Nat, who spent many a summer day there reading books with his aunt, inherits a special gift of his own - Aunt Eleanor's library of unique, priceless and very special books.
During the family's first trip to Aunt Eleanor's house following her death, Nat discovers that the hundreds of books in the library provide a safe haven for the characters in the most beloved children's stories - Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Alladin, and more. With his aunt's passing, it's now up to Nat to step in and be the characters' new guardian to ensure that children around the world can continue to read their stories for many years to come. But, if only Nat could read...
This wonderful story is sure to captivate you and your children - and make you cheer on the efforts of Nat to save his new fairytale-character friends. To me, it's an amazing movie just perfect for young children in that it shows them the power of books and their stories - and the joy that goes with learning to read on your own.
Whether you watch it in your native language or another language, the movie's message shines through loud and clear. Not to give anything away, but you'll love the end when you hear voices reading aloud in different languages, showing how stories know no cultural bounds. You really can feel the movie's message, cherish its tale and enjoy its characters - no matter where you live or what language you speak.
Two Great Chicago Resources for Foreign Language Children's Films
1) Facets Multimedia:
I first saw Eleanor's Secret in English with my younger son at Facets Multimedia (1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL 60614). The small theatre, located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, is a great place to catch independent, foreign films. This winter, on the second Saturday of each month, families can participate in the Facets Family Film Series, which offers international movies for children ages 7 and under at 9:30 a.m. and ages 8+ at 11 a.m.
Upcoming Facets Family Film Series movies include:
- Saturday, February 9: Best Buddies. 11 animated shorts from eight countries. (60 min.; ages 7 and under)
- Saturday, February 9: New Friends. 11 short films from seven countries. (70 min.; ages 8+)
- Saturday, March 9: Pink Power. Eight short films from six countries. (60 min.; ages 7 and under)
- Saturday, March 9: Girls POV. Six short films from around the world. (70 min.; ages 8+)
Facets Family Film Series tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for children. You can purchase advance tickets at www.facets.org.
2) Alliance Française de Chicago:
This past weekend, I took my younger son to the Alliance Française de Chicago (810 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610) to see Kérity, La Maison des Contes in French (with no English subtitles). The viewing was part of its Family Ciné Workshop, which offers a rotating list of classic French animated movies for children ages 5 - 12, followed by an activity and a gouter (snack). All movies start at 1:30 p.m.
Upcoming Alliance Française Family Ciné Workshop movies include:
- Saturday, February 16: Asterix et Cleopatre
- Saturday, March 9: Le Roi et L'Oiseau
- Saturday, March 16: Les Triplettes de Belleville
You can purchase a family pass (1 adult minimum, 4 family members maximum) of $10 for one movie or $25 for a series of three movies. More information is available at www.af-chicago.org.
What are some of your favorite international (or foreign language) films to watch with your family? Where do you like to watch them? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.