Karachi was once home to diverse international film festivals like the Kara Film Fest which showcased the power of short films from around the world. These events exhibited life through amazing films for the masses, professionals and film students to enjoyed and cherished. The concept of a film festival dedicated to children (aged 5 to 13) may be out of the box, but is a welcomed endeavour, especially for teachers and parents.
The Little Art Organisation has effectively nurtured the concept of teaching children through the most powerful medium in the world – film, and delivered a bouquet of entertaining yet conceptual films for children to enjoy as well as learn from.
It is simple story telling through visuals, but the effectiveness was visible in the screening room, for instance, the children laughed their hearts out whilst watching the short film Mooch from India. They could all relate to the character Aashay who did not want to get embarrassed in front of his friends. Another film, The Fly, instantly captured the children’s attention. It was about a girl who wanted to pass her art exam but had no idea of what to draw. The protagonist’s expressions were read well by the audience and one of them even commented,
“Even her teacher is like ours; strict yet funny.”
Towards the end, the children were having an intense discussion amongst themselves about which film they liked most and whether the subtitles were easy to read.
The reason why the Children’s Film Festival is so significant is because it has initiated a very different discourse on children. Now society is asking how we can better educate our kids and what other mediums of learning can be employed to keep our children engaged. The fact is that the children of Pakistan, many of whom do not even attend schools, need more than just schools. They need our attention. Putting them in a classroom is not enough. The fact is that our children are more astute and emotionally evolved than most other kids. They’re maturing in a region that is overwhelmingly troubled, therefore they require special attention. There is a dire need for us to engage in meaningful discourse on children that extends beyond atrocities and injustices.
Such initiatives are like a breath of fresh air in Pakistan. In a country wracked with terrorism, corruption and countless other evils, children are often forgotten. The segments of society that matter are the senior citizens, the middle-aged and the youth. Discourse on children is not only limited, it is non-existent. The only context in which the children of Pakistan are talked about are child labour, religious education, child marriages and terrorist attacks that have resulted in the death of children.
Once the show ended, the children got ready to leave the cinema hall, queuing up, jumping with giddiness, smiling and chatting constantly about the films with their friends. It was this particular heart-warming sight that gave organisers the cue and motivation they required to continue the Children’s Festival every year. They endeavour to give our young ones what they truly deserve; wonderful films with loads of quality entertainment.
The International Film Festival has set a good precedent for us and kick started the process. We must see it through.