Chicago Children’s Fest screening 260 films

One of Chicago’s claims to Oscar fame is the fact that the golden statuettes are made here. But a lesser-known Oscar connection is that the Chicago International Children’s Film Fest (CICFF) is the only Academy-qualifying children’s film festival in the world.

Running now through Nov. 1, winners in CIFF’s short film category can go on to compete in the Oscars.

Founded in 1983 by festival artistic director Nicole Dreiske and director of children’s programming, the 2009 CICFF presents 260 films from more than 40 countries and will welcome more than 26,000 children, adults and educators.

The Opening Night Gala, hosted by Luke Arnold, star of “Broken Hill,” includes a new Disney short film, tunes from Radio Disney, face painting and kid-friendly food.

Some showings feature a full-length film, but most are a thematically assembled collection of shorts. Actors will read the subtitles for movies directed towards those nine and under.

This year’s festival lineup includes a new “Wallace and Gromit” short (Oct. 24-25) and the 2009 live action feature “From Time to Time” (Oct. 30-31) directed by British actor Julian Fellowes, Oscar screenwriting winner for 2002’s “Gosford Park.”

Fellowes will be at the screenings, one of more than 100 filmmakers, media professionals and celebrities to attend and lead interactive workshops with kids.

Festival programs are presented at five locations throughout the city: Facets Multimedia (host of the fest headquarters), Kerosotes Showplace, the Harold Washington Cultural Center, Bank of America Cinema and Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern.

Tickets for each show are $6 for children, $8 for adults; workshop prices vary. The Opening Night Gala: $60 adults, $25 children. See