India's largest kids film fest closes with a bang

Over six days, close to 154 films from 38 countries were screened across 13 theatres in the city. At the final count, over 175,000 children from the nooks and corners of India and hundreds from across the world watched films, attended workshops and interacted with filmmakers who had come from the world over.

The festival was organised by the Children's Film Society, India (CFSI) and the Andhra Pradesh government.

Speaking to IANS, CFSI chairperson Nandita Das said: “The festival has raised the bar when it comes to children's film festival anywhere in the world. It will be a tough act to follow even for us.”

The festival was not bereft of its share of problems, mostly with the screenings.  “For the first time something so ambitious was pulled off. The concept of makeshift theatres to give a festival feel had never been done in India. The three theatres constructed at Shilparamam in merely 20 days time held up well," CFSI CEO Sushovan Banerjee told IANS.

"The only problem was the sound because some films have optical sound which the projectors could not read. This created a hissing sound. We scouted the country for a fix but couldn’t find it.

“This has been the biggest children's film festival and the kids had a blast. The size and scope of the festival has left everyone surprised,” Banerjee said.

Some of the most celebrated and awarded films were screened including French animation master Michel Ocelot's Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival nominee "Tales of the Night", celebrated Russian animator Garri Bardin’s "The Ugly Duckling" and the multiple award winning "Eep", "Lost in Africa", "The Crocodiles Strike Back" and "David and Kamal", among others.

However, it was Iranian film "Meadows" that won the most coveted prize of Golden Elephant for Best Feature Film, International.  Among the Indian films, "Chillar Party" proved to be the hot favourite, winning not only the Golden Elephant for Best Film, India from the actual jury, but also the same prize from the children’s jury.

Directors Nitesh Tiwari and Vikas Bahl were present to receive the awards. Among the other winners were "I Am Kalam", Umesh Kulkarni’s feature "Vihir", "Lost in Africa" from Denmark, and "Crocodile Strikes Back" from Germany.

Short film "Nineandahalf’s Goodbye" from Germany won award both from the adults and children’s jury.  Among the who’s who of the Indian film industry, who paid more than a flying visit to festival, included names like Shyam Benegal, Vishal Bharadwaj, Rahul Dholakia, Seema Biswas, Sarika and Shaad Ali Sahgal.

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