Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Films of various hues compete at the Children’s International Film Festival in Hyderabad

A variety of children films drew huge crowds at various theatres in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Telangana during the fifth day of the ongoing 20th Golden Elephant International Children’s Film Festival of India (ICFFI) 2017.

Many children have shown interest in animation films and movies in the Little Director’s section including ‘Pixi Post’ and the Gift-bringers’ which were screened during the festival. In this category, children’s films are mde by children themselves.

Padmini Nagulapalli, Jury member for animation category, is very thrilled to  participate in ICFFI 2017. He said “this festival has inspired the children and taught them how films are written and narratted to the audience.”

Another film that caught the attention of children was a silent movie “Ehsas” directed by a 13-year-old boy from Patna in Bihar, Praveen Kumar.  The three-minute film about food waste received a standing ovation after the screening. It told a story of a boy who throws his lunch at school every day because he craves for junk food. However, one day he realises that there are many children who do not always get   meals every day and they often sleep hungry. Then he changes his attitude.

Child film maker Kumar said, “We made this film in a week’s time but the most difficult task was to get expressions from the actors because it is a silent film.”

Another film which made an impact at the festival was Sabash Biju (Bravo Biju). This film is a tribute to former Chief Minister of Odisha Biju Patnaik who was known for his leadership qualities. The movie talks about a 11-year-old child who lives with his widowed mother in a village and supports his family by selling milk. This film was screened twice at the festival.

German film crtic Wolfgang Mundt, Jury member in the live action category at the ICFFI 2017, emphasised that  Indian moves are full of emotions and there is a good story connect. He said he was very impressed with 3 indian films, Little God, Let me join you and Beelay’s Diary.  “This festival is one of the greatest in the world,” he reacted.

Director Alani Sridhar, who has directed children’s film “Doo Doo, Dhee Dhee,” is full of excitement with his film entering the festival. This film cautions younger generation to stay  in touch with their roots and not get lost in the digial stage. Three child artists figure in the film.

Iranian film ‘Houra’ was also screened at this festival. It focusses on the acute water problem faced in Iran. The story is about a teenager who struggles to maintain a garden where  he lives with his family. Surrounded by desert, the garden gets dried  up due to acute shortage of water. However, the boy struggles to preserve the garden because it is the only memory of his mother who had passed away due to water crisis.

Monday, 13 November 2017

20th ICFFI gets a new high with Dia Mirza’s workshop

Many children from various schools in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Telangana thronged the theatres today  to  view films on the third day of 20th International Children’s Film Festival of India (ICFFI)  titled ‘Golden Elephant’ which also saw a series of special workshops on film making, animation and visual effects and story telling in which the kids wholeheartedly participated with great enthusiasm.

The highlight of the festival today was the workshop by actor Dia Mirza called ‘Gaj Yatra’ in which she interacted with children. The topic was ‘Reconnecting with Nature.’ A short film was shown to children to empower them with an understanding that they are a part of nature and their true sense of growth, inspiration and creativity can be nurtured by engaging with nature.

The Dia Mirza event was indeed gripping and the children enjoyed it thoroughly. Equally good were other workshops on ‘Film making’ by Producer Ashok Kaul and ‘Animation and Visual Effects’ by Dhvani Desai and ‘Story Telling’ by Ms Deepa Kiran..

The workshops are  organised to teach the children how to make films and make them learn animation and visual effects magic effect on the audience. “Every child  has a story to tell and all that he needs to be taught is how to make a film.” With this mind, workshops and Open forums are held every day at the Golden Elephant Festival 2017.  

In the workshop on film making, spanning five days from November 9, Kaul will teach the kids how to make a film. His approach is very practical as he would assemble a group of children and select from among them  producer, director, story writer, camera man etc and assign them their roles. He comes down to the level of children and interacts with them as part of the team. The shoot then begins and the crew gets ready to make a film. Within a span of 90 minutes, a short film is thus ready and the children learn the nuances of film making. The children, today, are very intelligent and talented and their responses in the workshops is very encouraging and fruitful.

The workshop on ‘Animation and Visual Effects’ by Dhvani Desai was equally interesting.  Desai has been working in the field of animation since last 25 years and she teaches children in the workshops at the festival about animation and visual effects. Desai is also on the advisory Board of Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI), which has organized this festival jointly with the Telangana Government.  

Desai also taught the children in workshops the importance of sound and music in animation films. According to  her,  sound and music has no barriers and does not need any language to make the audience understand the film. She believes that story is the soul of the film and says if the story is strong, the movie thus made will also be strong and gripping.

Desai also teaches in the workshops all the styles of animations, new techniques, mix media and folk arts. According to her, even though the subject may be the same, the visuals  could be different. Desai also briefed the children about the history of animation that has evolved all over the world in the past.  

In the five days, commencing November 9, Desai would educate the children on how to make animation films on various subjects such as social issues, medical films, 3D animation, Biography and Educational Films.        

In another development, at an Open Forum last night, Actors, Educationists and Cinema experts opined that women were talented and should play a pivotal role in children’s films while asserting that good and social oriented movies should be made for children and shown to them in theatres and festivals.

Addressing the delegates, I opined that women in India are worshipped as divine figures in the society and people have respect for them. Women play a pivotal role in making audience for children’s films and this will also encourage them (women) to play important roles in movies made for kids.

I also informed that Children’s Film Society, India, was making children’s films on social subjects such as sanitation and hygiene which would focus on open defecation rampant in villages and that such films would be shown to children in rural areas soon after the Festival was over.

Dr Madhu Chopra, mother of actor Priyanka Chopra, addressing delegates, said her home production was making three films for children. She said in a lighter vein that her company has employed 60 per cent women as staff and all of them had proved their mettle. Women, today, are talented and their works are outstanding, Chopra said. “All my three films for children have been directed by women.”    

However, Chopra had a work of caution for women who do negative roles and accept vamp roles. “Say No if you want to say No to such roles. My daughter Priyanka is very outspoken and takes a firm decision against such roles, Dr Chopra mentioned.

Film Actor and Educationist Amala Akkineni said, “In India, Cinema has to grow and evolve further in relation to society, Women, today, would do anything to achieve what they want. They are talented and sky is the limit as opportunities for them are manifold. However, education is necessary  for a woman to work in films, she opined. Education would give rise to opportunities and the number of women working in films would increase in future, she quipped.

The Open Forum was compered by eminent Educationist Ujjwal Choudhary.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

ICFFI 2017 begins on a colourful note

The Golden Elephant ICFFI 2017 opened on a colourful note with spectacular performances of children at Shilpkala Vedica where film actors Zara Wasim of ‘Dangal’ fame and South India actor Poonam Kaur were felicitated last night by Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) and Telangana Government which have organised the week-long festival.
Before the screening of films began at various theatres in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Telangana state today, the Jury members had a brief meeting which was presided by me in capacity as the Festival Director. The topic of the discussion was on how to judge the films for the awards.

Popular actor Amala Akkineni and Jury member was of the view that the Jury should focus on the story of the film while reviewing it for the award and not on creative aspects. Amala is the Chairperson of Asian Panorama Jury.

Leading Television actress Sakshi Tanwar said, “We have to encourage children in film making and appreciate their point of view. If they express a problem through their films, we (Jury) should focus on that and view the films from their point of view.” She heads the Jury in Little Directors category in which children’s films are made by children themselves.

Another prominent Jury member Dr Madhu Chopra, mother of actor Priyanka Chopra and film producer, said, “I look at children’s films radically and I do not want to treat them (children) as imbeciles (idots),” Dr Chopra is the Chairperson of International Jury Live action category.

Actor Dia Mirza, who  is the chairperson of International Shorts Jury category will be in the city too. Other prominent members of the Jury from abroad include Michael Harbauer, eminent Festival Director in Europe, Wolfgang Mundt, Journalist, Pierre Assouline, Theatrical and International Distributor, Elizabeth Muskala, Programmer and Consultant, Children’s content.

The Festival opened with film titled “School Chalega” made by Ameet Prajapati. This film tells the story of a 12-year-old deaf and mute boy Goonj who is left alone on the crowded Dadar Railway station in Mumbai and comes on the radar of a child trafficking gang, However, Goonj is rescued finally by another child after the gang is busted.

Some of the films screened in festival  theatres today include Molly Monster (Animation/Germany), Phantom Boy (Animation/France), Hanuman Da Damdar  (Animation/India), Chocolate (Asian Panorama/Iran), Oddsockeaters (Animation/Czech Republic, Slovakia, Crotia), Hell of a wedding (Animation, Iran), Appu – the crazy boy (children’s world/India), Bravo Biju (Children’s world/ India), Big and Little (CW/Switzerland), Jill and Joy’s winter (Finland).

Other films screened were Poorna (India), Wendy (Germany), Beelay’s Diary (India), Doctor Proctor Bubble in the bathtub (Norway),  Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate (india), In the forest of Huckybucky (Norway), Siv Sleeps Astray (Holland, Sweden), Storm letters of Fire (Belgium), Barkley (Taiwan),  Becoming Who I was (Korea), Ballad from Tibet (China), Horizon (India).

Saturday, 11 November 2017

ICFFI drawing huge crowds, including Festival Directors from abroad

The week-long 20th Golden Elephant International Children’s film festival of India (ICFFI)  has been drawing huge crowds in theatres but its most striking feature is that children from all over the country have come here to see the films and among them are kids from Himachal Pradesh who have never been to a theatre because there are no cinema halls near their houses.

In this festival, organised by Children’s Film Society, India, (CFSI) and Telangana Government, a few children, who have never been to a theatre, are viewing films in cinema halls and staying with film makers and Jury members at the Park Hotel, the stay venue of the festival. Thus they are exposed to cinema environment and get an opportunity to interact with Indian as well as foreign film makers.   

However, the best category in the festival is ‘Little Directors’ in which films for children have been made by children themselves. Production of flms  by children have been started as an activity. We (CFSI) teach children how to express their stories. We keep pace with formats, platforms for consumption. We now have a web series called V3 which will be launched soon on our website and FB page.

India has 16-18 languages. However, Cinema is a language which no one teaches. Many kids are the first generation learners.Only a lot of privileged students get an opportunity to experience Cinema.

The impact that Little Director’s section is having would soon have an exponential curve.. These children will find a way to express themselves. I feel thilled to hear what film makers have to say about Little Directors. There is a whole spectrum of kids we (CFSI) are catering to. CFSI has a catal;ogue of over 260 films in 15 different languages. In every theatre, we have put up a stall where CDs of CFSI films are sold and the response has been encouraging.

Another extra-ordinary feature of this festival is that for the first time many Festival Directors have come from abroad. When we invited them, they immediately responded saying that would attend the festival which only shows that Golden Elephant Festival has gained popularity in the last few years since I joined CFSI as the CEO.

Another important aspect of this festival is that out of the 1402 entries which we received this year, 30 foreign films were those which had received many international awards and have been nominated in more than  50 film festivals all over the world. Thus Golden Elephant festival (ICFFI) has become well known all over the world for screening quality films.      

According to our daily schedule, many films in various categories were screened in theatres in Hyderabad and all over Telangana state.  Even today, workshops and Open forums were held in which delegates and children participated wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Friends, in my previous blog, I had shared details about the 20 th Golden Elephant – ICFFI, being held from November 8 to 14 at Hyderabad. Throwing more light on one of the largest and most colourful children’s film festival in the world, I would like to reiterate that the 20th Golden Elephant aims to screen high quality International children’s cinema which children may not get to see anywhere else.

No doubt, the festival promises to be a grand event and aims to attract large number of children audience along with film personalities from around the world. In 40 years, over 20 editions, this festival has only gone from strength to strength.
The last three editions for which I have had the privilege of being the festival director has seen exponential growth in terms of curatorial content and participation of best films from every nook and corner of the world. From an average of 300 to 400 entries in previous editions, I would like to inform you that while the 18th ICFFI in 2013 received 894 entries from various countries, the following edition on 2015 received 1204 entries and now, for the 20th ICFFI, we have received a phenomenal 1402 entries from 109 countries.
At CFSI, our major focus is to make this a truly international film festival for children and by children by conducting training and workshops for children in film making. This festival will consider the children’s view points and create a universal theme from children’s interest as well.
Around 40 Festival Directors of various International Children’s Film Festivals and children’s film makers from across the world will converge at the 20 th ICFFI. My main aim in taking children’s films made in India to global audience is also to bring revenues and market the content.
My efforts during the previous editions of ICFFI to make it a truly international festival has borne fruit. And, my recent travel to the world market, where I attended various film festivals and my meetings with top film makers and festival directors has added to getting more people to the festival.
I was invited to attend MIPCOM, the global market for entertainment content across all platforms, and MIP Junior, the world’s showcase for kid’s programming, held in the French town of Cannes.
Attending the BFI London Film Festival was another fruitful visit, where I met some of the well- known film makers and festival directors and had discussions for partnerships for Golden Elephant and other areas of collaboration. At the Cinekid Festival at Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to meet Sannette Naye, former CEO of Cinekid. Our mutual interest in children’s films and discussions thereof led to Naye agreeing to work wholeheartedly for enhancing the creativity of children in India through the medium of films especially the rural children, taking the Little Director’s initiative to logical conclusion. I also had a fruitful interaction with the current CEO of Cinekid, Floor van Spaendonck.
Both my earlier and recent visits have resulted in congregation of the global stakeholders including film makers and festival directors at this year’s do, which will be a maha sangam for children’s content.
Look forward to sharing more such successful partnerships and collaborations from across the globe, which helps in making top quality children’s films as well as marketing them aggressively on international platforms.