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CHAMPAIGN — The 2019 Smart Kids International Children's Film Series will begin with "Paddington 2," it was announced Tuesday.

The film festival, which started in 2016 and aims to provide children with engaging international films and make the films accessible to a wide audience, returns to the Art Theater in downtown Champaign. The films will be shown weekends from July 6 to Aug. 4.

"We hope that children will develop an appreciation for alternative films that carry within them something from the culture, in which they came to life," said Smart Kids guest curator Dora Valkanova. "They are stories of conquering fear, of accepting others as they are, of the value of community, and perhaps most of all, that what's truly valuable is often invisible to the eye."

Along with the second installment in the British series, this year's schedule includes "Tito and the Birds" (Brazil), "Dilili in Paris" (France), "The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales" (France) and "Liyana" (Eswatini).

"I am most looking forward to 'Dilili in Paris,'" Valkanova said. "I simply fell in love with its protagonist. She is smart, sensitive and courageous. She's a dream."

Valkanova said the films were chosen though extensive research, including looking through catalogues for recent international film releases, requesting screeners and selecting the films through a specific criteria including protagonist usage and quality of storytelling.

Admission to each of the festival's films is free. More information will be available at