Young at the movies
By: Afia Mansoor
In a highly polarised world, it’s rare to have events that celebrate humanness irrespective of existing differences. So it was a pleasure to see kids from both government and private schools, and special children, enjoy films screened at the 4th edition of the Lahore International Children’s Film Festival. It was reportedly attended by an estimated 8,000 children along with their teachers and parents at the Ali Auditorium for six days, organised by The Little Art.
A total of 86 films from 32 countries were screened with the aim to promote arts education and media literacy among children and young people. The educational and entertaining international films exposed children to world cultures to open up their minds towards tolerance and new ideas.
In a given one hour show, five to six short films were screened which included cartoons, puppet films, animations, short live action and documentaries. Interestingly, even though some films were in a foreign language, the content was deciphered by the children who continued to clap and cheer loudly.
The educational films screened addressed diverse issues such as climate change, reading, outdoor exploration, buying grocery and trekking.
The entertainment films were on a wide variety of themes such as aliens, making new friends in school, pirates and animals. A majority of films were premiered or were award-winning entries from other film festivals, such as the Cine kid, International Buddhist, Heartbeats, Waterspite, Royal Reel, Cartoon Club, UNICA, International Rotary, Columbus and many others.
Among the entries from Pakistan was a particularly touching 24-minute animation film, Lost and Found, which is also a Bafta Children’s Award winner. Based on a book by Oliver Jeffrey, it is about a little boy who finds a stranded penguin at his doorstep and decides to take it home, even if it means rowing all the way to the South Pole.
Earlier at the opening, the Ambassador of Netherlands Mr Gajus Scheltema along with festival patrons Salima Hashmi, Steve Ryan, Shireen Pasha and Nirmeen Hamid spoke of the importance of encouraging creativity and innovation in young minds.
The Little Art also allowed free entry to the students of organisations working with marginalised children and young people in different capacities. These were from diverse backgrounds — school and out-of-school, those with mental and physical disabilities and street children.
It would have been even better had the films been screened as per age groups. So particular shows for ages below six, between six to 12, and over 12 years would have made it easier for children to understand the content screened.
The festival is being taken to Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Faisalabad and one hopes it increases in prestige. It is a relief to know that amid the grand mayhem that has beset our country, there seem to be people who are inspiring others wherever they can.