13th November, 2003


T.V. K. Reddy*

Cinema provides a healthy outlet for joyous learning. Keeping in view children’s right to entertainment, the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) was established in 1955 under the aegis of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, with active support by the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The main objective of CFSI is to provide children and young people with value-based entertainment through the medium of cinema.

Since then CFSI has been actively promoting children’s films by producing films for children, organising 35mm/16mm shows, State and district-level festivals, telecasts on DD,Regional Kendras and Satellite channels besides participating in International Film Festivals. While ‘Rani Saheba’ produced by V. Shantaram in 1930 can be acclaimed as the first children’s film ever made in India, the first children’s film ever made by CFSI is ‘Jaldeep’ in 1956. Recently, CFSI has produced ‘Pani Re Pani’, a video film on water, ‘Bhasha Alankar’ – a video film in Sindhi under its literary services and ‘Himmat’ – a docu-drama in Dogri language concerning brave children. To take cinema to remote corners of the country, it has organised District-level children’s film festivals in Assam in May and June 2003. Its films ‘Hathi Ka Anda’ and ‘Himmat’ were sent for participation in Indian panorama at IFFI-2003 while ‘Hathi Ki Anda’ and ‘Baaja’ found a place in the National film awards –2003. These two films also participated in Festival De Cans, France while ‘Baaja’ and ‘Rani’ participated in 21st International Young Audience Film Festival at Poland.

To make films more enjoyable to children, CFSI holds workshops for children where they are exposed to the nuances of film-making. These workshops are on animation, script writing, film appreciation and video. Thirteen such workshops have been organised during the year 2002-03.

The mega event of CFSI, however, is the biannual International Children’s Film Festival. With Hyderabad being declared as the permanent venue for children’s film festival, the city once again awaits to welcome the 13th edition of International Children’s Film Festival to be held from November 14th-20th, 2003. This will be the fourth successive time the ‘Golden Elephant’ will be coming to Hyderabad. The festival, which is organised in collaboration with the State government, aims to bring together and promote films from all over the world with the main purpose to entertain and educate children, to encourage exchange of ideas between film-makers and children, and to exhibit films which lead to better understanding between people and culture.

The festival would screen a total of 109 films from 34 countries. The festival has three sections - the International Competition, Asian Panorama and Children’s World. Around 33 Indian films would be screened in International competition. Eminent actress Asha Parekh, who started her career as child artist would chair the International Jury. Asian Panorama has 16 films of which 10 are Indian. Film-maker Vijaya Mulay, a recipient of V. Shantaram award for Lifetime achievement in the field of documentaries would head the Asian Panorama Jury. The Children’s World section has 60 films of which 11 are Indian. The Child Jury is headed by Ms. Manasa Rao, a 14-year-old student and comprises of 8 other child judges. The Critics Jury is headed by Maithili Rao, a veteran Indian film and TV critic. Forty animation films and three Telugu films – Hero, Harivillu and Kutchi Kutchi Koonamma would be screened at the festival. As a tribute to Johnny Walker, the famous Hindi comedian, two of his films – Udan Choo and Mr and Mrs. 55 will be screened at the festival. Another notable attraction of this festival is the screening of Tin Tin films for the first time. Around 350 delegates from 33 countries would be participatng in the festival.

The festival will open with the screening of the film Mr. Bones at I-max Theatre, a prestigious theatre which is fast becoming the new symbol of Hyderabad. Besides I-max, which is the main festival theatre, seven other theatres have been selected for public viewing. To popularise children’s films throughout the State, for the first time celebrated children’s movies are being screened in various districts of Andhra Pradesh from October 30, 2003. It is expected that more than 2.5 lakh children would have seen the movies by November 18, 2003 when the screening comes to a close.

As a sequel to the festival, various other activities like open house, workshops on film-making and seminars are also being arranged for children. All in all, a visual treat awaits the children of Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad in particular.

But Children’s films need to be understood in a proper perspective as they have a vital role to play in all-round development of the younger generation. So it is high time the children’s cinema be recognised and polularised as a better mode of education in the country. But only commercial success holds the key to a popular cinema. Therefore the big production banners will have to come forward to popularise children’s cinema in a big way as proper packaging and presentation catch the attention of young minds as well as their elders’ alike.(PIB Features)

*Information Officer, PIB, Hyderabad.

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