In 1983, Facets founded the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, the first competitive festival of films for children in the U.S. The impetus for the Festival came from a need to introduce new, culturally diverse films for children to American children's audiences, and to recognize excellence in children's filmmaking. In addition, we sought to empower children by involving them directly in the juring process. From its inception, the Festival has had independent juries of children and adult media professionals awarding prizes in multiple categories.
The Chicago International Children's Film Festival provides screenings both for schools and the general public. Educators bring their classes to school screenings during the fall Festival to view international films. Films are used as a springboard to class-work in a wide number of subject areas, including geography, math, music, social studies, art, health and language studies. After screenings, children are engaged in discussions with filmmakers and Festival personnel. These discussions are designed to lead children and teachers toward an inquiry-based dialogue about the role of television and film in their lives. The impact of violent films, and alternatives to them, are frequently explored in depth.