Nandita Das

Come, celebrate the Golden Elephant

  • November 1, 2011

Now, after two years as the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI), I have a little more understanding of this very neglected space. But, now I am also a little more realistic about all the changes I can make and the ones I have to pass. A 56-year-old organisation set up to create and spread quality films for children all around the country cannot be faulted for its vision. Even though the market forces, the apathy and the bureaucracy make it a little hard to implement the mandate, I have learnt to choose my battles and to be hopeful with baby-steps forward.

Today, I invite you to our most exciting event, the International Children’s Film Festival (ICFF), called the Golden Elephant, which will be held in Hyderabad from November 14 to 20. We expect more than 1.5 lakh children to attend this week long carnival, apart from filmmakers and other delegates who will liven up the event. Let me try and tempt you with all the wonderful things that the 17th edition has to offer.

We have raised the bar of the festival this year by bringing in top of the line films from around the world to the children, many who would be leaving their little villages and towns for the first time. Two fabulous curators and a very competent selection committee have carefully chosen 160 international films from 40 countries, including for the first time, films from Africa and South America. You will get to see award-winning films, like the 2011 Oscar winner, and its director will participate in the festival, just as many others will come from around the globe. The Children’s World, where there is no pressure of competition, will have several wonderful never-seen-before films, and a careful selection of Indian films made in the last 10 years.

This year there will be a clash of the titans in the Indian Competition section! Films you might have seen, like Stanley Ka Dabba, I am Kalam, Chillar Party, and the ones you are waiting to see, like Dekh Indian Circus and Vihir, will compete with one another. A new section, Country Focus, will show six award-winning Chinese films that reflect the diversity of their country. While it is great to see what adults are making for children, I am sure you will find it fascinating to see the world that children see through their eyes. Again, for the first time, we have a section called the Little Directors that will show films made by children.

Doesn’t all this sound amazing? But our worry was, how will children read subtitles? So we got educators to write a child-friendly synopsis for each film, which will be read out before every screening, for the children to follow the story better. This year we are also doing age-wise programming for the first time, to enable each child to watch films that are most engaging and appropriate for their age-group.

In addition to screenings, you can participate in debates on a wide variety of relevant issues, like, are ‘family films’ pushing out children’s films? How is writing for children’s films different? How can children’s films have a greater reach, beyond the traditional ways of distribution? Can children’s cinema become a means to bridge differences? While adults debate formally and informally, children will participate in workshops. Most of all, they will enjoy making new friends and learn about life in ways that would be unique. 

Without hesitation, I continue to rope in people to expand the family of CFSI. Many have come forth in the last two years and have added to its vibrancy with their time, expertise and concern. You, too, can be a part of it, to support an alternative that is being created to the kind of films and television programs that we don’t want our children to be growing up on. Make a difference to your life and theirs, by being a part of the Golden Elephant and adding to the joy of the carnival. I promise you will not forget this experience!

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11