And I know just who to send for the American Blogging Delegation!

Telegraph – What makes a children’s film great?<br/> Next month, London hosts its first ever Children’s Film Festival. Here SF Said explores the curious magic that gives this overlooked genre its particular power, while our critics choose their top 20 kids’ movies of all time

This is the festival’s first year, and they’re showing a wide range of movies, large and small. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Disney’s Chicken Little will screen alongside films from Europe, Asia, Latin America.

There’s a particularly strong selection from Scandinavia, and the closing night gala, Shining Boy and Little Randy, is a box-office smash from Japan, starring the young Cannes prize-winner Yuya Yagira (from Nobody Knows) and a cast of charismatic elephants.

“Most of the films which are available for children in the UK are Hollywood productions,” says Robert Rider, another of the festival’s artistic directors. “Our dream is very much an international children’s festival, to give audiences an opportunity to see films from around the world that they would never have the chance to see before.”

Oh, cool! That’s just so cool!

So, what are the qualities that make for truly great children’s cinema? Back in July, the BFI and the Barbican attempted to compile a canon of films that all children should see. Their list provoked much discussion; it included an Iranian film (Abbas Kiarostami’s Where Is the Friend’s House?) and a classic of Italian neo-realism (Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves) as well as more obvious titles such as Toy Story, The Wizard of Oz and ET.

While it’s hard to imagine any list being uncontroversial, all great children’s films have dynamic narratives, unforgettable characters, and an emotional power that puts most mainstream cinema to shame. Often, they deal with dark subject-matter – especially separation, and the anxieties it entails. In many of these films, a young character is dramatically parted from an older, stronger protector – a wrenching scene that leaves audiences in tears. This is the moment when Bambi’s mother dies; the moment Gandalf falls into the abyss in The Lord of the Rings; the moment that Sullivan and Boo must part at the end of Monsters, Inc.

Err, since when was The Lord of the Rings and children’s movie?

I think my favourite kid’s movie ever (it deserves it for being so remarkable) is The Snowman (beware: the website has the music, and you might just get choked up). My aunt didn’t want her kids watching TV or normal movies so when my cousins were babies they’d watch it over and over, and I’d always slip into the living room to watch too.

Update (10.30):

I loved Escape to Witch Mountain! Being an early-subscriber to the Disney Channel myself (preen, preen) I’ve seen it a gazillion times, too. Great movie. Filmed in California, too! Which always amused me when they got to the local yokels scenes. And the upside-down helicopter? Classic.

In this month’s Wired there’s a big ad for buying the first couple of seasons of The Flintstones, and the other Hanna Barbaras (The Jetsons, Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound). Plus there’s the first season of He-Man, all the WB Cartoons, and so on. Which brings me comfort, because you can now raise your children with all the same cultural references as your own. To which Peter responds “Then they’ll not have the same cultural references as the other kids” to which I respond “Well with this crap the other kids will grow up stupid.” I mourn the Disney Channel. I really do.