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4 Female Children’s Movies Directors: Enchanting Little Minds

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It’s not easy to direct movies that the little ones love and can identify with. These female directors, including Vicky Jenson and Penelope Spheeris, bring out the magic, the wonder and the heart that is a great children’s film.

Let’s Go Back to Being Kids for a While…

Oh to be a child again! Children’s films (although we enjoy them too) are filled with imagination, wonder and magic. We take a look at some creatively-skilled directors who bring these worlds of wonder to life to have us and the kids just beaming with excitement.

Directors like Penelope Spheeris create classic children’s worlds while Vicky Jensen manages to entertain children and adults alike. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite children’s film directors:

Vicky Jenson

Jenson has directed some big animated hits and has helped deliver performances from some really great stars. She has proven herself as an exceptionally imaginative director and has maintained her standard over several high-budget animations including ‘Shrek’ (2001) and ‘Shark Tale’ (2004).

Recommended Movie: ‘Shrek’ (2001)

Jenson really showed the world her directing chops when Shrek became a worldwide sensation for being an animation in its own class. This was one animation that really did appeal to both children and adults with its witty, layered jokes, delivered to near perfection. The characters are as messed up as we are and just as lovable. The performances of the big celebrity names just brought this masterpiece to life.

Vicky Jenson can deliver that razor-sharp, and perfectly-timed wit to children’s films without taking away from the innocence.

Penelope Spheeris

Penelope Spheeris is both intelligent and quirky. Her resume includes many playful comedies such as ‘Wayne’s World’ (1992), ‘Black Sheep’ (1996) and ‘Beverly Hills Hillbillies’ (1993). It also includes insightful documentaries on various topics.

Her eclectic range of skills come together when she creates children’s films that are clever, funny and have the insight to bring the world of a child alive and remind adults what is like to see the world through the eyes of a child again.

Recommended Movie: ‘The Little Rascals’ (1994)

What would the nineties be without our classic (and a bit cheesy) live action children’s films?

‘The Little Rascals’ (1994) is a cinematic classic. Spheeris helps to create a children’s world of their own as they create their own little society in the big world.

The film is completely delightful and charming every second. The characters are full and the performers from an almost all-child cast are superb.

Spheeris’s has a remarkable ability to create live action films depicting other worlds within the world using her imagination and skill instead of visual effects.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Starting her career as a promising story-board artist for DreamWorks Animation, Nelson was able to move on to entertain and bigger and wider audience and have children and adults enthralled.

Recommended Movie: ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ (2011)

Taking off from the success of Kung Fu Panda (2008) Nelson had no problem making the sequels ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ (2011) and ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ (2016)- her own, while still maintain the essence of the original. Nelson really builds on the themes and really portrays character development quite thoughtfully.

There was great character growth and relationship growth between characters which is great for kids to see, while the jokes are fun and charming all the way.

Nelson brings her own set of depth, heart and originality to her version of an animated hit.

Peggy Holmes

The animations that Holmes directs show the other and deeper sides of the adored cartoon characters like Tinker Bell and Aerial, the Little Mermaid. In The Little Mermaid: Aerials beginning (2008), she showed a human side to the otherwise love-struck mermaid. She tackled the growing pains of a young girl with sensitivity and humour and went on to direct a number of films from the Tinker Bell series.

Recommended Movie: ‘Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy’ (2014)

An adventure story about retrieving stolen Pixie dust has layers of deeper meaning. The characters must use the talents and strengths to regain what is rightfully theirs.

This “girl’s movie” is not about waiting for prince charming to show up and rescue them, but a group of tough little fairies going on an adventure and working together.

The theme is feminist in so many fabulous ways. This “girl’s movie” is not about waiting for prince charming to show up and rescue them, but a group of tough little fairies going on an adventure and working together.

Directorially, it is well-constructed and smart with all elements from music to visuals to performance blending well together. It is also fresh and sincere and the world feels real and the characters relatable.

Holmes maintains the sweet fairy-dust charm of classic animations while still bringing the adventure and feistiness in otherwise “girly” animations.


Enthralling the Kids While Re-Igniting Childhood Wonder in Adults

These directors remind us what is like to be a kid and ignite our own imaginations. They understand that there is so much to teach kids from films and strive to bring something more than to the screen.

Who is your favourite female children’s film director?

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