Movies made for children can be best judged by children. And so, more than 100 children's films from 28 countries will be judged by children themselves at the Chinh India Kids Film Festival 2008.
With a jury comprising entirely of children from 3 to 15 years of age, the film festival is the first of its kind in the country. "Usually, when children's films are screened at festivals, the jury consists of adults," said Meenakshi Vinay Rai, who along with her husband, Vinay Rai, is the brain behind this unique initiative.
"But often adults fail to see what holds a child's attention and what excites him or her. When children judge the films, the indicators come from them," Meenakshi said.
The festival, which goes into its second year, has been divided into three categories —pre-school (for kids between 3 and 6 years), early education (6 and 12 years) and a separate animation series for kids between 7 and 15 years.
For children the opportunity is priceless. "I have fun because I have a chance to express my views," said nine-year-old Vaishnavi Shekhar, a student of Convent of Rani Jhansi, RK Puram. "I saw a film called Garlic Boy last year but I didn't like the animation. So I gave it 6 out of 10," said this 'veteran' jury member.
Vaishnavi is particular about the cartoon characters she likes. "Japanese cartoons are usually very pointed and I don't like that," she said.
The festival has generated such a positive response among filmmakers that last year's winner Lee Chi Tian -- the filmmaker from Singapore who won for his film Colours -- is flying here to collect his award this year.
"Children's film is not a genre that is popular or recognised in India. But when we went to the schools with our films, we found that children went into minute details while discussing the films shown and the idea of a children's jury was born," said filmmaker Vinay Rai.
For the preschool category, the jury is asked whether they liked the film, their favourite scene and what they did not like. Meenakshi smiled on being asked how she manages to get six-year-olds to form their own opinions. "It is challenging, to say the least, but we had various appreciation sessions where we told them how they could choose the film they liked the best."
But 11-year-old jury member Shaunaq Narindra would have you believe it's simple. "I don't like movies that I can't understand," he said.