Lantern and Light International Children’s Film Festival returning to Belgrave in September

Festival Director Rainsford Towner outside the Cameo Cinema in Belgrave. Picture: PARKER MCKENZIE

By Parker McKenzie

With a record 200 entries from 18 different countries, the Lantern and Light International Children’s Film Festival continues to highlight the cinematic works of young people on the big screen.

Ahead of the festival being held from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September at Cameo Cinemas, festival director Rainsford Towner and 2022 judge Emmanuelle Mattana spoke to the Star Mail about the power of young people telling their stories through the film.

Rainsford said this year’s festival would be humble in ambition despite the huge number of entries from people aged six to 18.

“We’re running a full day of sessions featuring exciting films from all around the world,” he said.

“Short films made by young people and through the Golden Flame Award, professional filmmakers making films for young people.”

The festival features categories of entries: The best of film in schools, the Baba Desi Animation Feast and award for international young filmmakers and the Golden Flame award for professional filmmakers giving young people a voice that is inspirational and inclusive.

Emmanuelle said she was asked to be a judge at the festival after winning an award at the 2021 Film Festival after entering their short film The Odyssey.

“It was a really wonderful opportunity just to meet with young filmmakers and to get the film in front of a young audience,” she said.

“The vibe of the festival is very much about celebrating young people’s achievements and their artistry, it was really awesome to get an opportunity to show the film and to have such a warm reception.”

The festival, which started in 2019, is an event hosted by the not-for-profit organization Ranges Academy of Performing Arts. Entries into the festival are up to 15 minutes long including titles and credits, with films in non-English languages also accepted as long as they have subtitles.

Emmanuelle said seeing the film on the big screen with an audience was a special moment.

“Because of Covid, it was one of the first times we got to see it on a screen. Many of the screenings we had planned beforehand ended up being switched online,” she said.

“It’s a comedy, so just seeing people laugh or smile and be touched by the film is always such a gift.”

Entries into the festival have come from local filmmakers as well as young people from the United States, South Korea, Netherlands, Iran, India, Brasil, Poland, Czech Republic and Taiwan to name a few.

Towner said the festival is an initiative allowing young people to focus on the film they want to make.

“They’re going to have the great opportunity of seeing their film on the big screen, the same screens that they see Marvel or Hollywood films,” he said.

“Become interested in the young people in your community, and in what they want to talk about because they’re saying what they want to talk about in their films.”

On Saturday 17 September the awards for each category will be handed out, with the Best of Film in Schools award at 11am, the Baba Desi Animation Feast and Award at 1pm, best performance, new wave, best documentary and producers choice awards at 3pm before the Golden Flame Award at 5pm.

For more information on the Lantern and Light International Film Festival, visit