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UNICEF's International Children's Film Festival gives voice to rural kids against social evils

UNICEF's International Children's Film Festival gives voice to rural kids against social evils

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 22 Jan 2020, 12:49 am

Malda, West Bengal/UNI: Children in West Bengal's Malda district have found a unique and powerful means to speak on their issues ranging from child marriage to gender equality.

In its 19th edition, the International Children's Festival organised by UNICEF, child rights organisation Talash and Cine Central Calcutta screened seven short films made by a team of 25 children during the inauguration of the event namely Ek A-Purusher Golpo, Sanai Sotpatro (A Suitable Groom) , Co-Ling (Dialogue on gender equality), Swapno Dekhbo Bole (Because I Wish to Dream), Balya Bibaha: Ek Abasyik Na (Zero Tolerance to Early Marriage), Bipannyo Poribesh (Action for Social Change) at Sanaullah Manch in the town.

Children and young adults in the age group of 13-22 years were picked up from across Malda district to form the film making team.

The district was chosen as the starting point of this initiative to empower adolescents and young adults against child marriage which is highest in Malda in the state, said the organisers.

"This film festival is a platform dedicated completely to the children where they have been empowered to speak about their issues and concerns the way they see and feel about them and their peers. UNICEF is happy to partner once again with Talash for organising this unique film festival which is organised by children and showcases the movies made by them," said Moumita Dastidar, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Office for West Bengal.

The children were introduced into the film-making process and mentored by filmmaker, academic and theatre director Debasish Sen Sharma and his team Chaepani during the last one-and-half years through different phases. The children also watched several international movies to learn about filmmaking.

"From developing the plot to directing and taking creative calls, the children did it all. They wrote the screenplay, acted in their films and edited them. They dealt with every aspect of filmmaking. Of course they did not produce a 'Pather Panchali' but their films are honest and fresh cinema," said Debasish Sen Sharma.

He said the children have made WhatsApp version of their films and are learning to promote their short films on social media.

Ayesha Sinha, Executive Director of Talash, said the initiative is an attempt to empower children and strengthen their voices.

"Whether we like it or not, children are using digital technology and accessing internet and their influence cannot be denied. This has already started to change children's lives and life chances. Film festival can be an effective tool to enhance participation and foster the growth of children," she said.

Digital literacy and empowerment can help children and young adults to distinguish between harmful and quality content online, she opined.

Sagarika Banjhuria, a member of the children film making team, said it was a life-changing experience for her.

"I never knew that I would ever be able to express my mind in a way that will be heard and understood. We cannot share our experiences, concerns and feelings with elders but films let us do that," she stated.

Asim Akram, another youth advocate whose film "A-Purusher Golpo" was screened Tuesday, said the festival offered him the opportunity to speak his mind in a way that would have a much larger reach and broader impact.

"Boys are often forced to fit in an image that reflects typical male qualities and anyone different is mocked and bullied. My film relates the story of a boy who is different and how he stands against the bullies," said Akram brightly, happy to have asserted his point on gender equality.

Santashi Das, another participant and youth advocate, said: "I have been part of the organising team of the festival since beginning. My confidence has increased manyfolds over the years. My friends in school are surprised to see how we organise the festival every year. Parents, teachers and neighbours look at me differently these days. They did not expect we could do it," she said.

The film festival will last for seven days and showcase children's films from various countries.

UNICEF's International Children's Film Festival gives voice to rural kids against social evils

India Blooms News Service
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