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Festival Without Children

Article (45kbs) - The Hindu, 22/11/1999. By Editorial

Record Number : A0090234

Click to browse by keyword: Cinema Film Exhibition Spectatorial practices Spectators

 

FESTIVAL WITHOUT CHILDREN

IT IS SO unfortunate that the recent International Children's Film Festival in Hyderabad ran to empty theatres. There were not enough boys and girls to watch what was undoubtedly a very good package of movies from 30-odd countries. One had not seen such quality fare in a long time, and the Festival Director must be congratulated on achieving something as difficult as this. Getting a good picture into India is no mean task, given the reputation that has been built up over the years. If there are complaints of prints being mishandled, there is the eternal problem of finding a market. In times such as these, when commerce rules over art, no producer is willing to send his work to a territory where it cannot be sold. Despite these major impediments, this Festival got some splendid stuff. But it seemed a tragedy that the city was just not prepared for an international event of this magnitude. Children were simply scarce. There were screenings with just 10 or 15 of them; the Children’s Film Society, India, which organises the biennial Festival, virtually turned red in the face when it had to introduce directors to an audience as small as this.

Although the Society did make an elaborate effort to rope in schools, not just in Hyderabad but in other Andhra Pradesh districts as well, the response was disappointing. Apart from conducting an orientation course for teachers a few weeks before the Festival, the Society distributed synopses in English and Telugu to educational institutions. But seven out of every 10 youngsters who came to a show were completely in the dark about what they were going to see. Obviously, such lack of preparation meant lack of interest, and there were occasions when the kids were restless and bored. Schools, of course, said that they could not possibly pay attention to cinema, burdened as they were with a taxing syllabus. They even refused to give a few days off to their students. It is strange that when cricket matches warrant a holiday, a Festival as significant as this and which is meant for the young is treated so callously. One must remember that films do not just entertain, but inform and educate, and it is time that schools thought beyond textbooks.

Of course, in the ultimate analysis, the Society would have to take the rap for this. But at a more direct level, it is inexplicable that it has not been able to get for itself a complex. It was decided a long time ago that Hyderabad would be the permanent venue. Admittedly, the State Government did give a piece of land, which was considered unsuitable by environmentalists. They felt that the rocky terrain should not be disturbed. Interestingly, the Ramoji Film City, on the outskirts of the city, has been built on a similar ground, but without a single stone being disturbed. Obviously, the will is lacking when it is a question of our young population's interests. Which was apparent in a few other spheres as well. Those manning the hospitality desk of the Festival looked at the whole thing as a picnic. They were rude and unhelpful, and one foreign delegate remarked that the desk should be called an “intimidation” rather than information counter. This was certainly unpardonable, more so because the Festival organisers had all along said that communication was the high point of the Festival. But such slips, when they do occur, leave a bad impression, and the gigantic effort that must have gone into putting such a lovely package together would appear wasted only because some individuals behaved in a fashion that was undoubtedly detrimental to the interest of a child.

 

     

     

     

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