18th International Children's Film Festival, Hyderabad

We are fortunate to be in Hyderabad for one other reason apart from several good ones -- the International Children's Film Festival is held here every two years. Every time it happens, I manage to see at least a few films, because this is one chance when we get to see films from all over the world. Apart from this, I love the ambience of the festival at Prasads.

Here is a list of films I saw this year, with a brief description.

Buzkashi boys (Afghanistan)
Synopsis: Set against the dramatic landscape of contemporary Afghanistan and the National sport of Buzkashi - a brutal game of horse polo played with a dead goat - Buzkashi Boys tells the coming of age story of two best friends, a charismatic street urchin and a defiant blacksmith's son, who struggle to realize their dreams as they make their way to manhood in one of the most war-torn countries on Earth. Shot on location in Kabul city by an alliance of Afghan and international film makers, Buzkashi Boys is a look at the life that continues beyond the headlines of war in Afghanistan.

I was touched by this film. The stark images of a torn and battered Kabul, the sheer hopelessness, and the underlying anger in people is heart wrenching. The two child actors are really good, as also the script, photography and direction. 

Bajo a Almohada (Under the pillow). Spain. 2012.


English and Spanish with English subtitles
This warm but moving animated documentary allows the voices and drawings of a group of children who live in a clinic in India to tell us about some of the treasures and dreams they keep hidden under their pillows.
Very cute film, yet serious. Animation using children's drawings was very well done. 

Pilipka. Belarus.

Language: Belarusian
Subtitles: English
Directed by: Tatiana Kublitskaya
The little boy Pilipka shows up at the log hut of the evil Baba-Yaga. He tries to escape, but the surrounding forest is bewitched...
Fabulous illustrations! Reminded me of the Russian books we read as children. 

Noodle fish. Japan. 'To be a grown-up, you've got to get out of the water.' With this, the tadpoles disappear. Noodle Fish, a friend of them begins his journey for the world outside the water. Cute story. Animation uses noodles!
A small ant and its big dream. Our very own Taj Mahal is the hero here! Animation uses tea leaves of various colours. Lovely!You can watch Chinti here
(On the last day, it turned out that Chinti and Noodle fish won the best animated short films...lucky me, for getting to see them!)

Kanta, firewood and grandpa. Japan. 
DirectorTakeshi Yashiro (Taiyo Kikaku Co., Ltd.)
Very touching story of the relationship between a grandfather and his little grandson, and about the three things firewood does to human being -- drives away the cold and brings warmth inside the body when you are chopping it; brings warmth outside the body when lit; and improves makes/relationships when the warmth is shared by people you love and care for.  

Goopy gawaiya, Bagha bajaaiyaa: India

The things that struck me were the brilliant, detailed illustrations in this animated film, the deep deep colours and the wonderful songs. The illustrations reminded me of the illustrations in Russian books that we used to read when we were children.Associate professor at IIT, animator and illustrator Shilpa Ranade's ambitious project Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa, is based on Satyajit Ray's acclaimed children's movie. 

I had a choice of a South African animated film, a Japanese film about a dog that went missing, and this Iranian film. I chose to see it because I has seen and found Iranian films to have a lot of depth. Oh my god! This one just took me along with it deep into Bardou's tumultous journey. A very disturbing film. 

Directed by Seyed Hadi Mohaghegh, it is about Bardou, a 16-year-old teenager who has recently lost his father. He lives in arid lands along with his sick mother and his younger brother. He tries to convince his mother to leave their home and the grave of his father in order to move to the village in order to have access to medical care. To do this they need money and Bardou has to get back the money his father had lent to Nasir, who lives on the other side of the desert and is unwilling to pay off his debt. During this journey he encounters a young policeman who accompanies him. "Bardou" is a story about a teenager who, in order to get what's his by right and to deal with difficulties, has to become a man.


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