Loft Cinema program director Jeff Yanc truly believes that its not just the nine days of free movies that keep families coming back to Loft Kids Fest year after year.

Free popcorn is a major driver, Yanc said. We serve hundreds and hundreds of pounds during Kids Fest. They come for the popcorn and stay for the movies.

Whatever the reason, Yanc and his crew are expecting packed houses when Loft Kids Fest returns for its 17


year this Friday, June 23.

The festival will showcase eight movies, both animated and live action, screened at the theater, 3233 E. Speedway, on Saturdays and Sundays through July 16.

It will kick off with an outdoor screening party of Looney Tunes shorts at Himmel Park, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd, this Friday, starting at 6 p.m.

Yanc said this is the first time The Loft will be holding the Himmel Park event since the pandemic. They tried last year, but were rained out. Their last Kids Fest at the park event in 2019 brought in an estimated 1,200 people.

It was pretty huge, Yanc said. Because they are Looney Tunes shorts, they are good for attention spans. You can watch a 10-minute short, then wander away.

Among the selection of films being shown during the rest of the festival: The animated classic Toy Story on Saturday, June 24; Minions: The Rise of Gru on July 8; The Sandlot on July 2; and My Neighbor Totoro on July 15.

Yanc said a lot goes into deciding which movies will be screened each year.

You try to hopefully not go over 90 minutes, he said. That is kind of the sweet spot. You want a mix of animated and live action, but we tend to skew a little bit more toward animation. Kids respond more strongly to that.

In the case of choosing The Sandlot, a 1993 movie about a group of kids playing neighborhood baseball in the 1960s, Yanc said nostalgia was a factor.

You want films that have cross appeal with parents and kids, Yanc said. So that parents dont feel like they are being dragged to something they dont want to watch. Parents love ‘The Sandlot.’ You get that cross-generational excitement going.

Each film will be preceded by fun activities for the kids in The Loft lobby and patio area. Films will also be preceded by animated shorts from countries around the world.

We are paring the familiar with the unfamiliar, Yanc said. We generally like to have a film from another country other than the U.S. to give kids a flavor and sense that there are other kinds of films out there in the world.

Yanc said, with the viewing habits of children changing so drastically since Kids Fest started, the festival is a good introduction to the magic of watching films on the silver screen.

A lot of parents say this is my childs first time watching a movie in a theater, Yanc said. They watch at home. They stream. They watch on their iPads. Kids get blown away they are in a movie theater and there are hundreds of other children watching with them.


Loft Kids Fest

Where: Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway

When: Friday, June 23 through July 16; Doors for films open at 9:15 a.m., films start at 10 a.m.

Cost: Free


June 23 – Looney Tunes Outdoor Movie Party at Himmel Park, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd. Activities start at 6 p.m.; shorts start at 8 p.m.

June 24 Toy Story

June 25 Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

July 1 Sing 2

July 2 The Sandlot

July 8 Minions: The Rise of Gru

July 9 Matilda

July 15 My Neighbor Totoro

July 16 Encanto