KICFF 2015 – Learning Beyond Classrooms

Karachi International Children’s Film Festival is an offshoot of Lahore International Children’s Film Festival, one of the largest children’s film festivals in Pakistan, offering a diverse slate of programming from the country and around the globe, using the power of film not just to entertain children and parents but also to foster new ideas about the complex issues facing young people today.

The 5th Karachi International Children‘s Film Festival in collaboration with the Teachers Resource Center and Cinepax Cinemas started from October 5, 2015 till October 14 2015 in Cinepax.KICFF2015-Report-1

The event was divided into two parts, Morning and Evening Program. There were three different slots of an hour each in the morning and an hour slot in the evening. Different schools of Karachi participated in this event and total 56 children’s film from all over the world, were screened to and audience of approximately 6000.

The event exhibited life through amazing films for the masses, professionals and film students to be enjoyed and cherished. The concept of a film festival dedicated to children (aged 5 to 13+) may be out of the box, but is a welcomed endeavor, especially for teachers and parents.

“I thought maybe we were going to watch a Hollywood, Bollywood or Lollywood film. But this turned out as something else,”

Ishmael Khan, a class eight student of River Oaks Academy.

Little Marwa Baloch of class one at The Wendy School wanted an animated discussion while also wanting to share the story of the film she had just watched.

The Little Art has effectively nurtured the concept of teaching children through the most powerful medium in the world – film, and delivered a bouquet of entertaining yet conceptual films for children to enjoy as well as to learn from.KICFF2015-Report-2

It is simple story telling through visuals, but the effectiveness was visible in the screening room, for instance, the children laughed their hearts out and could relate to the characters.  The Fly, instantly captured the children’s attention. It was about a girl who wanted to pass her art exam but had no idea of what to draw.

Such initiatives are like a breath of fresh air in Pakistan. In a country wracked with terrorism, corruption and countless other evils, children are often forgotten. The segments of society that matter are the senior citizens, the middle-aged and the youth. Discourse on children is not only limited, it is non-existent. The only context in which the children of Pakistan are talked about are child labor, religious education, child marriages and terrorist attacks that have resulted in the dearth of creative opportunities or entertainment.

We have seen so much progress in every field but sadly our children are ignored in the race of entertainment. The films screened at the festival aren’t regular films, which you can download from the internet. They are carefully selected, education-based films from 22 countries with some important lesson in them.

And here besides watching films and learning through them about various countries and their cultures, these kids also learn how to behave and carry themselves in public

Mrs Ahmed, a schoolteacher.

Teachers supervising the students also found the festival a good extracurricular activity. “Everything cannot be taught from textbooks in classrooms.

“The stories were short and informative that elaborates the importance of education, manners and happiness among children.”

Ayesha, a teacher from Head Start School

The children were so amused when they heard about this event at school,

Imran, a teacher at the Beaconhouse School System, adding that events like these will make children interested in filmmaking and animation.

Kids feel so amused with every movie they watch,

Ayesha, a volunteer at the event who was seen engaged with the children.

A young boy named Hamza expressed his thoughts about the films, saying that although he loves adventure films, these movies were different from fighting and hatred.

When my mother asked me what I want to become when I grow up, I told her that I am too young to think about such stuff but now I will tell her that I will make movies,

an excited 10-year-old Ali.

Towards the end, the children were having an intense discussion amongst themselves about which film they liked most and whether the subtitles were easy to read.

Karachi International Children’s Film Festival is so significant because it has initiated a very different discourse on children. The Festival gives us another medium of learning that can be employed to keep our children engaged. The fact is that the children of Pakistan, many of whom do not even attend schools, need more than just schools. They need our attention. Putting them in a classroom is not enough. The fact is that our children are more astute and emotionally evolved than most other kids. They’re maturing in a region that is overwhelmingly troubled, therefore they require special attention. There is a dire need for us to engage in meaningful discourse on children that extends beyond atrocities and injustices.

KICFF2015-Report-4

Once the show ended, the children got ready to leave the cinema hall, queuing up for the group photos and feedback, jumping with giddiness, smiling and chatting constantly about the films with their friends. It was this particular heart-warming sight that give us the motivation required to continue the Karachi International Children’s Film Festival every year.

(Note: Certain parts of this report are compiled through the press articles covering the Festival.)

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