To many, “independent film festival” connotes sophisticated films with lots of opaque dialogue, a la Ingmar Bergman, or maybe a Michael Moore documentary portraying a complicated societal dilemma.
But to Rebecca Richards and Ellen Gitelman, a film festival featuring works from outside the studio system is simply a great way to see unusual movies whose parameters reach beyond those of mainstream cinema. And for parents, it might also mean far less violence and sensationalism than they have come to expect from Hollywood films.
Richards and Gitelman are the cofounders of Belmont World Film’s Family Film Festival, which continues this weekend at Studio Cinema, 376 Trapelo Road in Belmont, with a lineup of international films for all ages.
The festival picks up at 4:45 p.m. Friday with the New England premiere of a Dutch film, “The Magicians,” about a boy obsessed by magic, followed at 7 p.m. by “Make Believe,” a documentary by J. Clay Tweel about the World Teen Magic Competition. After each screening, Bill Cook, a teen magician from Chicago who is featured in the documentary, presents a live magic show.
Highlights of Saturday’s lineup include “Eric Carle, Picture Writer: The Art of the Picture Book,” a portrait of the children’s book author and illustrator, followed by several short films based on his books, including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Stories” and “The Very Quiet Cricket.” After the screening, the director will participate in an audience question-and-answer session.
“Holding a family film festival ties into the mission of Belmont World Film,” said Richards. “Our mission is to celebrate humanity around the globe through film. We strive to expose people to other cultures through film. The family festival offers a similar experience to children.”
Belmont is an ideal place to expose children to independent filmmaking, said Richards. “We have the good fortune to be in an area where many parents are also sophisticated filmgoers. They are looking for an alternative to what they get from Hollywood. For many children, our film festival is their first experience with going to the movies, and we make sure to have programming for all ages, from 2- and 3-year-olds through teens.”
For the youngest viewers, this weekend’s festival also includes an animated film from Latvia, “Lotte and the Moonstone Secret,” as well as the New England premiere of “Knuffle Bunny Free” by Mo Willems. For children 9 or older, Richards points to the US premiere of “Victor and the Secret Crocodile Mansion,” which she describes as “a slightly spooky Hitchcock-like film from Germany.”
“For teens, we have the magician documentary on Friday evening and some other documentaries for older viewers,” Richards said. “And our final film of the festival will be ‘One Life,’ a breathtaking documentary from the BBC about the animal kingdom, celebrating animals and stewardship for the planet.
“Our primary goal with this program is to expose children to the enjoyment of well-made films,” said Richards. “In addition, we choose films for this festival that have themes related to creativity, imagination, accepting and celebrating other people’s differences, and being aware of other cultures. And through programming such as the Eric Carle documentary, in which the popular children’s author talks about his love of art and of making books, we celebrate the joy of reading books and how that intersects with a love of films.”
For full descriptions of the festival’s films, scheduling information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.belmontworldfilm.org.
CELEBRATING COLE: The Savoyard Light Opera Company presents Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” a production full of familiar tunes and eye-catching tap dancing, at the Carlisle Public School auditorium on Church Street in Carlisle, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $24, with discounts available for seniors and large groups. For tickets and more information, go to www.savoyardlightopera.org.
BENEFIT “STORY’’: Students Acting to Make a Difference will perform a benefit production of “West Side Story” in the Pollard Middle School auditorium, 200 Harris Ave. in Needham, at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 on Sunday.
All proceeds from the group’s sixth annual production will be donated to the It Gets Better Project, which supports young people who are bullied or shunned because of their sexual orientation.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
SEEING DOUBLE: Fountain Street Fine Art in Framingham is presenting two exhibitions for the next month, with an opening reception Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.
“A Sense of Place,” which features works by member artists, and “Small Works Showcase,” which has items that are less than 16 inches across and priced under $500, are both running through Dec. 16 at the gallery, 59 Fountain St.
For hours and more information, call 508-879-4200 or go to www.fountainstreetfineart.com.
WELCOME EXPOSURE: Fine-arts images by Ecuadoran-born photographer Sylvia StaggGiuliano are featured in “Dispatches and Dreams” at the E.P. Levine Gallery, with a reception and gallery talk Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at 219 Bear Hill Road in Waltham.
The exhibition, which focuses on shots of the Prometheus Dance Company, runs through Nov. 23. For more information, call 617-951-1499 or go to www.eplevine.com.
POLITICS, IN VERSE: HCAM Studio celebrates the election season with a special edition of “Wake up and Smell the Poetry” entitled “Poetry and Song, Politically Speaking” Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at 77 Main St. in Hopkinton.
Guests include poets Susan Edwards Richmond, Richard Smyth and Alice Weiss, who will read from “Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%.” Also, poet Fred Marchant will discuss the poetry of pacifism, and folk singer-songwriter Craig Sonnenfeld will perform Americana-inspired original songs.
Admission to the local-access show’s taping is free, although contributions are appreciated. To reserve a seat and/or an open mic spot, go to www.hcam.tv/wakeup.
STUDENTS IN “LES MIS”: The Hopkinton High School Drama Ensemble will present the school edition of “Les Miserables,” the musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, in the Hopkinton Middle School auditorium Thursday at 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and are available at the door or at the high school office.
BOOK LAUNCH: Author C. Anthony Martignetti will be joined by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer for the launch of his new book, “Lunatic Heroes: Memories, Lies and Reflections,” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington.
Tickets are $10, with all proceeds going to cancer care and research. For tickets and more details, visit www.lunaticheroes.brownpapertickets.com.
ARTS PARADISE: The annual Paradise City Arts Festival returns to Marlborough this weekend with 175 craft designers and artists.
First-time participants include Chestnut Hill resident Iris Sonnenschein, who creates quilts and fiber art, and Cathy Moynihan of Brookline, who makes ceramic sculptures.
Admission is $12 adults; $10 seniors; $8 students; under age 12 free. The festival runs Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Royal Plaza Trade Center, 181 Boston Post Road West.
For details, call 800-511-9725 or go to www.paradisecityarts.com.