At the 54th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), this year, UNICEF and National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) have partnered to focus attention of the film industry and audiences on children’s rights. This year, the partnership draws attention on portrayal of violence against children, adolescents, and women in films. A package of four national and international films curated by NFDC and UNICEF depict real-life issues faced by children. The films are being screened at different cinemas as part of the week-long festival in Goa.
Under the Knowledge Series in the Film Bazaar segment of the festival, well-known actors, directors and filmmakers participated in an hour-long panel discussion on depiction of violence against children and women in popular cinema and challenges of addressing the issues. Noted panellists included Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Neerja Shekhar, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Member and Actor – Vani Tripathi Tikoo, National Film Award winning actor – Shweta Basu Prasad, National Film Award winning filmmaker, writer and producer – Nalin Kumar Pandya together with Chief of Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India, Zafrin Chowdhury. The session, moderated by entertainment and lifestyle editor, Puja Talwar, focused on the issue of violence experienced directly or indirectly by children and how they are depicted and perceived in popular cinema. Various dimensions of violence in films – its impact on children and society, and perspective of the industry from scripts to production and audience expectations were discussed.
The 75 Creative Minds for Tomorrow, an initiative of Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Honourable Minister of Information and Broadcasting, supported by UNICEF at IFFI, promotes young talent to express themselves in a filmmaking challenge (48 hours) on the theme of Mission Life. The five films produced will be broadcast globally by In Shorts.
Appreciating the partnership, Hon’ble Minister, Information and Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Thakur said, ” It is the endeavour of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to promote and preserve films that have a positive impact on society. Alongside, the government also attempts to harness the power of the youth through various creative endeavours and the 75 Creative Minds of Tomorrow (CMOT) is one such initiative that brings young cinematic talent from across the country on to one platform and gives them an opportunity to showcase their talent to the world. I am proud that in this initiative, we have had the unflinching support of UNICEF and In Shorts, both of whom have added immense value to the programme and strengthened it greatly by creating a global awareness about 75CMOT.”
Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships UNICEF India said, “IFFI is an enabling platform for UNICEF to reach filmmakers, people from art and culture, critics, and audiences, broadly on children’s rights, while focusing on making violence socially unacceptable to prevent its dire impact on children and young people. Initiatives such as 75 Creative Minds challenges and supports young filmmakers as they explore their storytelling skills through their own lens with sensitivity across real-life issues.”
“UNICEF is pleased to be a cause partner of NFDC for a second year in IFFI, with a curated package of films that we expect will steer a positive discourse on recognizing child rights in popular films. We greatly appreciate the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for its leadership in promoting and including exemplary films centred on for and about children, she said.”
The four child-centred national and international films shown in the festival are important in drawing attention to challenges faced by children and women as well as stories of courage and resilience. The films are:
- Singo, directed by Alireza Mohammadi Rouzbahany from Iran is a moving story of a strong-willed and determined girl, who sets out to save horseshoe crabs her father intended to sell, challenging her family’s agreement with the village leader.
- Gandhi & Co., by Manish Saini from India delves into the theme of children standing up for equal opportunities and their rights.
- Peacock Lament, directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara is a story set in Sri Lanka on trafficking of newborn children.
- For the Sake of Ava, directed by Mohsen Seraji in Iran sheds light on challenges faced by adolescents who lack formal identity.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.