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I only say Giffoni Film Festival is Europe’s largest and not the world’s, because it has inspired – over its 40-year history – a number of similar events globally, which have grown to incredible proportions. The US hosts the Giffoni Hollywood Film Festival, and Argentina, Australia, India, Korea and China have all followed suit in hosting an amazing film frenzy that’s not only aimed at, but judged by, kids.
Yet it all started in Italy back in 1971 – in the southern region of Campania, in the surroundings of Salerno, and in an unassuming town called Giffoni Valle Piana. Intrigued? Read on for my definitive guide to this fun-filled kids’ festival, and start planning your trip to Salerno today.
Giffoni Film Festival: everything you need to know
Giffoni Film Festival: history
Originally concocted by Claudio Gubitosi, an artful and ambitious youth who sought to create an exciting event for his home, the Giffoni Film Festival was pretty revolutionary in its beginnings – and continues to be today. Not only did Gubitosi want to showcase children’s world cinema (though he was limited in his selection at the start...); he sought to give power to the people he wanted to entertain – children were to judge and award the films, too. It was in 1982 that French filmmaker François Truffaut said “Of all the film festivals Giffoni is the most necessary”; and after that, it’s safe to say the then small event would never look back.
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Giffoni Film Festival: jurors
What Truffaut meant by those words was that culturally, the Giffoni Film Festival was – and is – pivotal: it’s important to let young people judge what’s being given to them, and to discuss and address their concerns, dreams and fantasies. Didn’t Whitney Houston tell us “they are the future” after all? But in all seriousness, all children between the ages of 3 - 18 are welcomed to register as jurors (the deadline is at the end of January), and will represent 50 different countries, spanning all continents. With over 500 jurors needed per section, the size of the jury has grown substantially over the decades, with 3,000 jurors expected in 2014.
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Giffoni Film Festival: competition
Though originally there were just three categories (First Screens, Free to Fly and Y-Generation), today there are seven. The ‘Elements’ and ‘Generation’ divisions each have three categories, the first featuring cinema for children aged between 3 and 12, and the second dedicating two of its sections to adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18. One is aimed at young people over the age of 18, and there’s a documentary field showing films about childhood and coming of age. After judging, each winner is awarded with a Gryphon.
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Giffoni Film Festival: activities
If selected, kids are sent a juror’s kit and instructions (for Mum and Dad, too!) before heading off to do business at the festival itself. But it’s not all about watching films when they get there; they’ll play games and take part in workshops, too. Oh, and perhaps meet some superstars on the red carpet. In the past, Robert De Niro, Roman Polansky, Jeremy Irons, Danny De Vito and John Travolta have visited, and Meryl Streep is set to attend in 2014. The theme for this year is “Be Different”, and it will take place from the 18 - 27 July.
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Giffoni Film Festival: location
Though Giffoni Valle Piana is a town of just 11,000 inhabitants, it’s situated in one of Italy’s most beautiful and fascinating regions. With the Amalfi Coast and the isles of Ischia and Capri to discover one day, and the incredible remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum the next, you can expect nothing short of stunning scenery, ancient history and amazing attractions. If you’re little ones are lucky enough to judge, you’ll have the holiday of a lifetime. Check out the Giffoni Film Festival’s website here, for more information on what’s set for 2014.
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Main image and image 3 © Rossella Veltrano
Image 1 and 2 © Naud/
Image 4 © matteomerletto
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