Colossal screens enthral ecstatic students at youth film festival
Cinepax displayed 169 films from 45 countries and 24 Pakistani films from November 10 to November 15 which engrossed young audience in a larger than life experience as they were educated about various film genres and introduced to the art of puppetry.
‘The Little Art’ project arranged the six-day long 6th Annual International Children Film Festival which was a momentous success both in terms of reception and creativity. A number of schools participated in the event that took place at the newly opened Cinepax Cinemas in Fortress Square, Lahore. The other venue chosen for the shows to be held was the highly esteemed hub of art, the Faiz Ghar, that opened its doors to educate and entertain young minds. A hundred and sixty nine movies from forty five countries were displayed on colossal screens and this celebrated and exotic mix of films was chosen by the patrons of great stature such as artist and educationist Salima Hashmi, educationist Steve Ryan, Hassan Zaidi and cartoonist Sabir Nazar to a young audience which a number of schools participated in.
‘The Little Art’ project arranged the six-day long 6th Annual International Children Film Festival which was a momentous success both in terms of reception and creativity. A number of schools participated in the event that took place at the newly opened Cinepax Cinemas in Fortress Square, Lahore. The other venue chosen for the shows to be held was the highly esteemed hub of art, the Faiz Ghar, that opened its doors to educate and entertain young minds
The premise for getting this festival together was to offer a “fantastical world” to children in the real world where miseries, war, state failure and bleakness blankets us while we lay down our heads on the pillows of distress and morose departure from anything comforting. Scores of students enjoyed the 6th Annual Film Festival as they queued outside their assigned cinema halls at Cinepax. It was heartening to see such a large number of young audience take part in a grand event that catered to the sensibilities of the progressive youth. While Cinepax was jam-packed throughout the festival, the films displayed on big screens were masterpieces from forty five countries, including Argentina, Canada, USA, France, Mexico, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Czech Republic, Lebanon and Pakistan.
The films included in the festival were of different genres such as short live action movies, feature films, documentaries, short animation films and Pakistani films. To think that a youthful target audience had a horizon of opportunities opened for them to differentiate these genres and benefit from the emotionality of ethnically diverse characters on screen, was not only remarkable but made a kaleidoscopic experience for them to be submerged in a world of colour and imagination. Some of the short films from different countries such as ‘Time flies’, ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Neshma’s Birds’, ‘My Shoes’, ‘Prism’, ‘The World of Adrein’, ‘An American Piano’, ‘The Boy who Thought he was Good’, ‘Fatima’, ‘3 Candles Film’, ‘A Day’, ‘Bahar in Wonderland’, ‘Blue Eyed Boy’, ‘Bridge to Kindness’, ‘Catching a Lion’, ‘Children of War’, ‘FlyBoy’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Happy Place’, ‘Kaanike’, ‘Lea’, ‘Luftscloss’, ‘Lunchbox Loser’, ‘Maldeen, Sweet Girl’, ‘Marinka’, ‘My! My! My Little Room’, ‘Nurture’, ‘Social Learning Theory’, ‘The Goat’, ‘Time 2 Split’, ‘The Theft’, ‘The Scrap Man’, ‘Children of God’, ‘Blinder Passagier’, ‘The Puppet’, ‘War Canister’, ‘The Girl and the Gondola’, ‘Matilde’, ‘A BC Challenge’, ‘I’ve Just Had a Dream’, ‘The Beauty and Me’, ‘The Present’, and ‘Shame and Glasses’ spoke to the audience with their touching themes, symbolism and depth of characters.
The intrigued students kept discussing the authenticity, relevance and fulfilment of emotionality of these films outside the theatres. Films like Matilde, the story of a remarkably intelligent girl with a shy nature, ‘Shame and Glasses’, the story of a young girl who is ashamed of being seen in glasses by her crush, My!My!My Little Room, the quest of siblings for a room to get some privacy from their parents and Bahar in Wonderland, a Kurdish masterpiece which tells the story of a girl whose childhood is snatched away from her by her circumstances and has to escape and defy the danger of her town, received tremendous responses from children aged four to over 13 years and they expressed their being able to relate to these films as they wondered about the imaginative lands these were filmed in.
Danish, Taha, Bilal and Abdullah from Beaconhouse, Canal Side Campus said, “We have never experienced movies that we could so relate to on such big screens. As soon as we entered the halls, we were full of anticipation and we are thrilled to be here”.
A Scarsdale International School teacher, Amina Mekan, shared her wondrous views with us as she accompanied her students, who were cheerful after their experience of viewing a number of substantial short films and were reluctant to leave the theatres, and said, “The creativity and symbolism that our students experienced in those theatres was priceless. Students were enthralled by these heart rendering films that painted this event with colours of gold. I would without exaggeration give the entire experience a 10/10 and hope that such festivals continue to educate our students as they enjoyed so much that it’s heartbreaking to have to take them back to school. They cannot stop talking about the films they watched and we are probably going to have a session and discuss the very interesting Shame and Glasses when we go back to our classroom.”
Another school teacher from LACAS expressed that the depth of characters in the short films they watched was astounding and their brilliance interested her students so much that they stayed glued to their seats, inanimate and engrossed in this charming experience. Her students, Zohaib Asif and Mohid Wasim told us that the characters in Children of God had a particular fondness to them and they would love that they get more chances to meet and greet such characters on the silver screen again.
The festival housed a puppet-making kit stall with amiable volunteers to help students from different schools master the skill of puppetry and provided them with materials to make their very own puppets. The kit was a fun-sized learners’ guide to easy puppet-making with plastic spoons, glitter paints, activity sheets, ribbons, scissors and a forty-eight page booklet with instructions and cut-outs. This kit, whimsically named ‘Cutputli — a puppet making manual’, brought innovation, technique and nostalgia to the festival whilst introducing children to the art of basic puppetry and was thronged with students being instructed over how to be masters of puppets.
The festival housed a puppet-making kit stall with amiable volunteers to help students from different schools master the skill of puppetry and provided them with materials to make their very own puppets. The kit was a fun-sized learners’ guide to easy puppet-making with plastic spoons, glitter paints, activity sheets, ribbons, scissors and a forty-eight page booklet with instructions and cut-outs
The helpful volunteers said, “There is a massive response from students ever day to buy this puppetry kit from us as we give them an instruction and picture book which is a little crafting and a lot of fun.” The stall paid homage to the long-forgotten art of puppetry that lends the power of imagination to the puppeteer that once won millions of hearts of children who grew up in the 1990s watching puppet-shows at Alhamra and on their television screens while beloved puppet stars such as the bespectacled Uncle Sargum with his epic mustache and the quirky Maasi Museebtay clad in ethnic wear sprang out from behind the stage and presented quality comedy to their fans that worshiped these characters and the sketches they construed. Their clever banter is not unknown to any kid who grew up during that era and this stall brought a lot of memories back for me.
One of the volunteers, Zainab, expressed her excitement as she informed us that there were various students accosting her at the stall for face-painting and left happily cartwheeling into the cinema halls. The festival did not just celebrate filmmaking in its plethora of youth causes, but also paved way for artistic rituals to resound in the confines of Cinepax.
The festival brought a sense of overt artistic mastery, nostalgia and the grandeur of filmmaking that is usually not introduced to students in their childhood. This initiative welcomed students from schools all over Lahore for the first time and brought them close to the unassuming world of film and accomplished the fantastic task of letting them have a dialogue with their imagination.