'Right to art': International Children's Film Festival opens on 17th -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Right to art’: International Children’s Film Festival opens on 17th

By: Aroosa Shaukat

LAHORE: The fourth Lahore International Children’s Film Festival (LICFF) scheduled to begin from September 17 to September 22 at the Ali Educational Institute.

This year, the festival will also be taken to six cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Karachi and Faisalabad. Organised by Little Art, they are expecting an audience of over 80,000 viewers. Last year, the festival opened at four cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

“Persuading parents that art plays an important role in the growth and development of a child is a challenge,” Little Art director Shoaib Iqbal told The Express Tribune. “Our film festival alone cannot change this alone but we are trying.”

“In Pakistan, most people see education through a narrow lens.

This leaves in a gap between what children are taught and what they actually learn,” he said. In 2007, Iqbal decided to combine film and new media as a tool for learning and founded Little Art. He was earlier a theatre teacher.

The first LICFF in 2008 attracted an estimated 11,000 people, most of them children. “We screened both feature and short films. The aim was to introduce children to art films,” Iqbal said. Three festivals have been conducted so far which have been visited by almost 60,000 people. He said the festival also aimed at introducing children to world culture. “The clichés children pick at school must be challenged,” he said.

He said the festivals aim to attract marginalised and out-of-school children (OOSC) as well as children in regular schools. He said as many as 30 per cent of the previous festivals’ audience consisted of such children. “Last year, out of 8,000 viewers in Lahore, almost 3,000 children were brought by organisations working with children from marginalised communities,” he said.

“Our main objective is to ensure that the children get an equal opportunity to participate in arts and creative activities,” Noman Qureshi, a creative arts therapist at The Little Art, said. He said it was important that the society acknowledge that learning and producing art are amongst the basic rights of children. Qureshi, a psychologist, has previously worked for the rehabilitation of children through theatre and arts. He regretted that children were rarely acknowledged as individuals. He said the LICFF catered to the creative and artistic needs 3 to 17 year olds.

As many as 83 movies from over 30 countries will be screened. Qureshi expressed his regret that only five or six of the entries hailed from Pakistan.

“A total of 200 entries were received from which we selected 83. The criterion is based on both entertainment value and content so that films carry a message,” he said.

Over 300 schools are being sent festival brochures and invitations. Private schools have been suggested a donation [sic] of Rs200 per child. However, children brought by NGOs will not be charged. “As previous festivals, several families said they could not afford a donation,” Iqbal said. “We respected the right of all children to entertainment and art so we let them in.”

Iqbal said his aim was to make the festival sustainable. “The audiences sustain such festivals – we want the audience to grow,” he said. He said the festival had not endorsed or supported by any government.

The Express Tribune