Can films be a part of the school curriculum? Why are children's films invisible in India? With open forums on such subjects, special workshops on animation and reporting, the 16th International Children's Film Festival in Hyderabad next week has much more to offer than just films.
Discussing various facets of the festival, actor and chairperson of the Children's Film Society India (CFSI) Nandita Das said at a press conference in Delhi Wednesday: "This festival is much more than just films. Through this we are taking up children's issues and sensitising parents and other stakeholders in an entertaining manner."
For instance, a 13-year-old boy, Mohammad Akram's film "This is how we study" highlights that although there are initiatives about providing quality education through the provision of laptops and computers in schools, basic amenities like toilets are missing in many rural schools.
"In my film I have also shown that the preparation of mid-day meal in schools is not hygienic since the food is mostly cooked in the open," Akram, who was present at the press conference said.
More than 70 films - both from India and abroad - will be showcased in the festival. This will include a German film package and a special package of films by Unicef, which is a partner with CFSI in organising the festival.
The festival will begin Nov 14, Children's day, and culminate Nov 20.
"We also have special workshops in the festival in which, over five days, children will be learn the art of storytelling, animation and even reporting. This will benefit all the child reporters who want to share their stories with the rest of the world," Das said.
There will also be open forums in which both children and adults participate and exchange ideas.
"A lot of times children say things that adults could never have. And through these films and forums we want to encourage that," Das said.
The festival will be held at both competitive and non-competitive level. At the competitive level, in which there will be 15 international and 18 Asian films showcased, children will be a part of the jury along with their grown-up counterparts.