India’s biggest children’s film festival begins

Hyderabad: Children’s cinema got a big boost on Monday with the nation’s largest ever and one of the world’s biggest children’s film festival, ‘The Golden Elephant’ 17th International Children’s Film Festival organised by Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) getting underway in Hyderabad.

“In a global village, one has to compete with the world. This cannot be done until one is exposed to the world. This exposure should begin early. We are hence committed to Children’s cinema,” said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.

At least 154 films from 38 different countries being screened across 13 theatres and over 150,000 children not just from the nooks and corners of the country but many from other countries who will watch these films: children’s film festival perhaps cannot get bigger than this.

Nandita Das, chairperson of CFSI, said, “Good cinema can have a very positive impact on the minds of children. Our intention with showing some carefully selected films from across the world was to cultivate children’s understanding of other cultures and experiences. Cinema can be both an entertaining and an educational tool.”

The festival boasts of a delectable line of children’s cinema produced in the two years since the last festival was held. Besides the usual suspects like the Hollywood animation films and Bollywood films like ‘Chillar Party’, ‘I Am Kalam’ and ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ the festival is screening some rarely seen but much applauded films from across the world made in different styles and languages.

On one hand you have “Tales of the Night” the latest animated feature by French master Michael Ocelot that was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, while on the other there’s a rarely seen but brilliant Dutch film called ‘Eep!’ which has surprisingly been missed by most festival circuits in the country.

The festival thus ends up showing the variety of cinematic styles and the cutting edge work that is being done globally in children’s cinema. This year, it is doing another thing. It is highlighting the bold steps India is making towards children’s cinema, a much neglected area so far. Besides the Indian films released in the theatres, the opening film of the festival is CFSI’s own production, ‘Gattu’ directed by Rajan Khosa.

The Indian contingent in the festival is further strengthened by auteur Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s ‘Woh’, a magical fable that is based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. The festival thus becomes a must visit event not just for children, but adults in general. Yet, the focus is on kids.

There will be filmmaking and script writing workshops for kids, interaction with filmmakers and celebrities from India and abroad and catching up with kids who have come from different parts of the world.

Open forums are meant to put the spotlight on children’s content in the country with filmmakers, writers, educators, parents and children coming together. A two day summit organized by FICCI is also on the cards.

“We have tried our best to make the film festival as holistic as possible by including the entire gamut of children’s cinema. Now it is up to the kids to enjoy, and make this festival a success,” Nandita said.