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Film fest on disabilities questions ‘normalcy’

Starting Thursday, the city will host a two-day film festival, We Care, dealing with issues concerning people with disabilities.

mumbai Updated: Apr 14, 2010 02:00 IST
Aarefa Johari

Starting Thursday, the city will host a two-day film festival, We Care, dealing with issues concerning people with disabilities.

The Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH) in Bandra will host the final leg of the We Care travelling film festival, founded seven years ago by Brotherhood, a Delhi-based non-profit organisation working for the disabled.

The festival, which has already travelled to 14 cities across India since February, will screen 32 short films by Indian and international filmmakers on people with various physical and mental disabilities.

This is the first year the festival is coming to Mumbai. “The purpose of the festival is to sensitise the public about people with disabilities, to break down social barriers between ‘normal’ and ‘handicapped’,” said Satish Kapoor, founder and director of We Care.

When it started, the festival was restricted to Delhi and screened Bollywood and Hollywood films related to the disabled.

Today, it is a competitive festival where entries are rated by the participants and then evaluated by a jury, which selects one for an award.

Most films have been subtitled in English to make them accessible for the hearing impaired, and some also include sign-language translations.

“Accessibility is most important for us. Films do not really bother to include sign-language translations in them. Mukesh Khanna’s Shaktiman television show was a sensitive and rare exception,” said R. Rangasayee, the director of AYJNIHH, who added that though there is narrative video software available to make films more accessible to the visually impaired, it is not being used by filmmakers.

For Ashish Bhatia, a short filmmaker from Mumbai whose seven-minute film, Breaking the Wall of Innocence, will be screened at We Care, the festival is all about creating awareness and acceptance.

“People tend to dismiss the handicapped or pity them, but they need to realise that the disabled are a lot like us and can do much more than we can imagine,” said Bhatia, whose film talks about the social exclusion of a mentally challenged child.

(The We Care Film Festival will be held at the AYJNIHH premises, Bandra Reclamation, from 10 am to 3 pm on April 15 and 16. It is open to the public. For details call on: 9869993833)