Children's Film Festival

I’ve often wondered: Once I create a few tiny, rambunctious versions of myself, how can I expose them to things I loved as a kid? More importantly, would my children even care? At the Children’s Film Festival (through Feb. 1), one man may answer that question. For over 40 years, David Newell has donned grayish-blond wig, false moustache, shiny leather boots, and blue postman’s uniform as Mr. McFeely, the befuddled, fast-talking sidekick on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He, and his friend Fred Rogers (who died six years ago), are the subject of the documentary Speedy Delivery, and Newell will appear live in person with the film (7 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun.). Says director Paul Germain, “Virtues like patience, kindness, creativity and love aren’t out of date. So why should today’s children’s programming be devoid of such valuable attributes?” To which I’ll add: Why did many PBS stations pull the plug on Mr. Rogers reruns last year? (But there’s always the DVDs on Amazon.) The doc screens among 80-plus films at NWFF’s fourth-annual event, with titles from two dozen countries. For tots who can’t sit still for long, the fest also offers workshops and even a pancake breakfast. The festival begins tonight with Jump!, about competitive jump rope. NEIL ESTEP

Jan. 23-Feb. 1, 2009

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