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The Hindu (19 December 2015)

The first edition of the Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth aims to exhibit meaningful films for the young

It is not just the lack of children and youth-oriented films but also the non-availability of venues to screen them that hampers the making and viewing of this genre of movies. A welcome addition in this regard is Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFFCY) which commences today. The eight-day event is being organised by Smile Foundation which besides working with underprivileged children, their families and the community is also engaged in producing films to sensitise people and engaging them proactively in initiating social change, like Nila Madhab Panda’s I am Kalam and television series Chhoo Do Aasman.

Referring to SIFFCY as a special platform devoted for appreciating world cinema Jitendra Mishra the Festival Director, says, “The idea is to channelise the energy and enthusiasm of children and youth into a positive direction, by imbibing a conscious perspective and constructive value system in them through the medium of cinema.” Suman Ganguli whose Blue Mountains is scheduled to be screen, feels it is a great platform for taking films devoid of stars but wholesome in content and actors to people.

To be held at Siri Fort Auditorium, the fest presents more than 80 films including 30 feature films, 30 short and documentaries and 20 students’ films from India and world over. Opening with the award winning Russian film Celestial Camel (2015), directed by Yury Feting portraying animal welfare, perseverance, family and friendship other foreign films include Olivier Ringer’s Birds of Passages (France-Belgium), Lourens Blok’s A Christmoose Story and Pim & Pom directed by Gioia Smid both from Netherlands, The Living Forest (by Angel de la Cruz y Manola Gomez, Spain), The Buddha (Krismant Whattananarong, Singapore), Number Seven by Li Bin from China and Poland’s Brave Bunch Children Of Warsaw Uprising directed by Thomasz Stankiewicz. Focusing on Germany, one of the leading countries making children’s films there will be six films from that country like Veit Helmer’s Fiddle Stick, Arend Agthe’s My Friend Raffi and Lola On The Pea by Thomas Heinemann among others.

The Indian participation includes five films from Children’s Film Society of India – Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya by Shilpa Ranade, Batul Mukhtiar’s Kaphal, Gattu by Rajan Khosa, Pappu Ki Pakdandi by Seemaa Desai and Surabhi by Vishal Chaturvedi besides others like Kakka Muthhai by M. Manikandan and Father’s Name Is Gandhi (Pavel Bhattacharya). Showcasing a message these films portray varied aspects of the society.

Identified as a crucial medium, a number of short films are part of SIFFCY for their ability to deliver message in a crisp span of time. Besides a large number of them on a variety of subjects can be accommodated a fixed timeframe. Following the standard format of other festivals, here too workshops on filmmaking, photography, sand animation, story telling and other activities have being organised. With the basic idea to interest youngsters in the craft, these events will be conducted by film professionals. Indian Institute of Photography will provide hands-on training to children who will be then sent to capture moments on the topic Swachch Bharat.

Efforts to tap schools in National Capital Region to send their students to attend film screening and the workshops have yielded result with more than 20 institutions having confirmed their participation. Will the festival be confined to Capital thus reaching a limited few? “We are planning to make it a travelling film festival and will try to showcase the best movies of this festival in 300 to 400 districts of India,” reveals the director.

In the changing scenario there is a crying need to sensitise children and youth thereby turning them into agents of change in the family and community. Films being much more than entertainment are a powerful medium to depict reality and inculcate values. As an interesting and engaging alternative, Jitendra feels it can stimulate discussion among them about vital personal, societal, moral and world issues.


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