Parents Rejoice! The Tumbleweeds Film Festival Returns to SLC for Two Weekends in March  

Ask any parent and they’ll attest what a rare gift it is to go to a children’s movie and actually enjoy it. For every Inside Out, How to Train Your Dragon and all the Harry Potter movies, it seems that there are a dozen more films that inevitably fill theaters with parents who are either sleeping or covertly scrolling through social media on their phones. Next month, however, the Utah Film Center tips the scales in both kids’ and parents’ favor with its annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival for Kids, running for the first time over two weekends in THE BLOCKS on March 6-8 and 13-15, 2020 at the City Library’s Main Branch (210 E. 400 South).

“Though Tumbleweeds films are appropriate for kids around age 13 and younger, our overarching goal in curating this festival is to show really well-made, non-mainstream movies that transcend any specific age group with well-told stories illuminating the human condition,” says Patrick Hubley, executive director of Tumbleweeds’ presenting organization, the Utah Film Center.

A few of the films selected for the 2020 Tumbleweeds’ program include: Binti a feature that was also a part of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival about a young vlogger whose parents illegal residency status threatens the stability of her family; two meticulously made animated films—The Prince’s Voyage (the festival’s opening-night screening) and Marona’s Fantastic Tale; and The House of Us, the story of a girl’s attempts to reunite her warring parents that Hubley described as a Parasite (referring to this year’s Oscar juggernaut film by Bong Joon-ho) for the younger set.

“All the films we select to show as part of Tumbleweeds are unvarnished and honest stories told from a young person’s perspective,” Hubley says.

In previous years, Tumbleweeds screenings were held at both the Main Library and the Leonardo, but due to space constraints presented by the latter’s Pompei exhibition, all screenings held as part of this year’s festival will be at the library, spread over two weekends versus just one. Other bits of beta you need to know about Tumbleweeds:  

  • Instead of the broad G or PG rating used by the mainstream film industry, Utah Film Center staff have assigned each film shown as part of Tumbleweeds with a more specific age-range category: ages 4 and older, 6 and older, 8 and older, 10 and older and 12 and older.  

  • In addition to film screenings, Tumbleweeds includes a slate of workshops and Club House events designed to highlight the filmmaking process and engage the broader Salt Lake arts community. Make up special effects, sound, Claymation and creating a film’s score are some of the topics explored in the workshops. Storyboarding, VR experiences, photo booths, crafts, a scavenger hunt and more are part of the festival’s Club House events, which will be held at venues throughout THE BLOCKS including UMOCA, Clark Planetarium and Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum.  

  • Film tickets and workshop tickets are $7 and $14 per person, respectively. A six-ticket film pass is $35. A festival pass–which includes eight film tickets, admission to two workshops and discounts at local restaurants and festival merchandise—is $60. Purchase in advance at However, most Tumbleweeds screenings—all held this year in the Main Library’s Nancy Tessman Auditorium—typically do not sell out (except, perhaps, for the fest’s opening night movie, which this year is The Prince’s Voyage on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m.) and individual tickets can easily be purchased at the door, day of show. 

  • Several Tumbleweeds Film Festival events are presented for FREE, including multiple film screenings and all of the fest’s Club House events.

Fair warning to parents. After just one Tumbleweeds Film Festival screening, you may lose your tolerance for sitting through another Disney film ever again.  


Written by Melissa Fields