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Chicago International Children's Film Festival 

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The festival continues through 10/31, with three feature-length films and nine short-film programs screening at Facets Cinematheque and the Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble. Subtitled films programmed for children under the age of 11 will feature an actor reading the subtitles live. For more information call 773-281-9075 or visit www.cicff.org, which features a full festival schedule.

Jacques-Remy Girerd's wonderful animated feature Raining Cats and Frogs (2003, 90 min., in French with subtitles) is easily this weekend's best film. When friends Lili and Tom are warned by frogs from a nearby pond that a flood of epic proportions will soon submerge the earth, Tom's adoptive parents create a makeshift ark and populate it with animals from the local zoo. The initial goodwill on board quickly vanishes when the carnivores tire of eating potatoes and start plotting a mutiny. Girerd deftly integrates humor with some pretty weighty subject matter, and the result is both charming and moving. (Facets, Sun 10/31, 1 PM)

I can't say the same for the other animated feature, Captain Sabertooth (2003, 75 min., dubbed in English). A Norwegian production about a young cabin boy's quest to gain the respect of his pirate captain, it may amuse smaller kids with its treasure-hunting adventure, but the animation and characters are uninspired. (Facets, Sat 10/30, 11 AM)

The Canadian live-action film Kart Racer (2003, 92 min.) stars Will Rothhaar as an aspiring go-kart racer whose strained relationship with his father (Randy Quaid), a former go-kart champion, is gradually repaired as they work together to prepare Rothhaar for his first big competition. Quaid's performance and the exciting racing sequences elevate an otherwise predictable father-son bonding drama. (Vittum, Sat 10/30, 5 PM)

Two of the weekend's short-film programs are especially noteworthy. Scissors and Paper Rock! (75 min., in German with subtitles) features the beautiful and memorable silhouette animation of German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981). Its six shorts are an excellent sample of Reiniger's work from 1928 to 1954, the most creative and prolific period of her long career. (Facets, Sat 10/30, 1 PM) Imagine That! (82 min.) includes Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, a 24-minute short based on Shel Silverstein's popular children's book; narrated by Silverstein, this was made in 1978 but discovered only recently in a vault. (Vittum, Sat 10/30, 3 PM) For details on all of the short programs, check out the festival Web site.

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Agenda Teaser

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King Hedley II Court Theatre
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