Smile Foundation made I am Kalam in 2010, inspired by the great visionary of our time, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Embodying his indomitable spirit, the film was an attempt to reach out to the country’s children and youth, and motivate them. Essentially, it was an extension of Dr. Kalam’s dream of “Igniting the Young Minds”. The movie got an overwhelming response, and went on to inspire millionsnot just in India, but across the world.
What followed was a realisation of what a good film, with a powerful message can do – it can connect to people like nothing else, particularly children and youth with their impressionable minds.
Children and youth are the future of any nation. If sensitized from the very beginning, they can be the best change agents, be it in their family or the community in which they live. But unfortunately, in today’s world, indifference is fast taking over the natural empathetic tendencies of young people. Dangerous addictions, loneliness, insecurity, violence and aggression have become the common traits of a teenager. Hence, it has become very important to channelize the energy and enthusiasm of children and youth into a positive direction, by imbibing a conscious perspective and constructive value system in them.
Smile Foundation strongly believes that a film represents much more than entertainment; it is the most powerful medium to help children understand reality and emulate values. Film becomes an interesting and engaging alternative to stimulate discussion among young people about vital personal, societal, moral and world issues.
With this conviction, Smile Foundation has been making films, which are creative, innovative with the right balance of content and quality. Foraying into producing films of all kinds – documentary, short and feature; Smile Foundation has been hugely successful, winning several awards for its endeavours in all the categories.
SIFFCY is the culmination of Smile Foundation’s efforts to use films as a medium of reaching out to as many children and youth as possible, and sow the seeds of change – of being better human beings, of being good citizens, in their minds and hearts. All through the creative audio-visual medium, making way for films of substance that can engage and inspire young minds across the globe.
The maiden edition of SIFFCY was successfully held at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi and got an overwhelming response from the audience as more than 10,000 children from the city turned up and the films ran to packed auditoriums. It was indeed the biggest celebration of good cinema!
80 critically acclaimed films – made for and by young people that have won laurels at International film festivals including Berlin, Toronto, Cannes, Tokyo and Cinekids, were showcased during the week-long film festival. The films were selected through a meticulous process from over 2000 entries received from more than 100 countries. Besides films, the festival offered a wide array of interesting activities for the children including professional photography and film making workshops, sand art animation workshop, puppet shows, magic shows, etc.
Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women & Child Development, Govt. of India, was the Chief Guest at the opening ceremony, and was joined by noted filmmaker and actor Tigmanshu Dhulia as the Guest of Honour. Actor Jimmy Shergill attended the Award Ceremony as Special Guest. Film Industry stalwarts Nagesh Kukunoor, Hansal Mehta, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Santosh Sivan, Jahnu Barua, and Resul Pookutty were on the advisory board of the festival. National award winning film critics Saibal Chatterjee and Utpal Borpujari were also part of the core team of SIFFCY.
“Birds of Passage”, from Belgium, France, directed by Yves Ringer and Olivier Ringer, was awarded as the Best Feature Film. The award for Best Direction went to Yury Feting from Russia for “Celestial Camel” and for Best Actor to Ramesh & J. Vignesh from India for “Kaakka Muttai”.
The festival’s success was made possible with support from our various partners. Hershey’s Syrup, Iris, Indira Group of Institutes, Ultra, Burger King, Children’s Film Society of India and Times of India came on board as Associate Partners. Leading international film organisations BFI (London), Cinekid (Netherlands) and Buster (Denmark) joined in as Festival Partners.
With the first edition of SIFFCY being so well appreciated by the audience, media and film critics alike, it is evident that good films have a unique potential to positively influence the country’s children and youth and mould them into potential change-makers. Here’s hoping that SIFFCY becomes a movement of change, connecting thousands of young people across the country through cinema, for a unified purpose – to make the world a better place.