The life and imagination of children in moving frames

The 16th International Children's Film Festival provided a remarkable platform for children and young people to channel their creativity and articulate their perspectives through the art of filmmaking

Film, a language understood across borders, is a potent tool for artistic expression. When children harness it, it becomes a channel for them to convey their thoughts, emotions and imaginations into the colourful frames of the screen. 

Under the banner of ‘Future in Frames’, the Children’s Film Society recently unveiled the 16th edition of the International Children’s Film Festival on 7 September. Held from 7 to 9 September, over two venues of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Alliance De Francaise Dhaka, this festival provided a remarkable platform for children and young people to channel their creativity and articulate their perspectives through the art of filmmaking.

This year’s theme was mainly science fiction. Among the 101 movies screened at the festival over the period of three days, there were some extraordinary short and long films that brought out some very important issues that are faced by today’s generation of children – with mental health being one of the major ones.

Aam Kathaler Chuti (2023)

Shuvo, a young boy from Dhaka, is confined to his home and spends his days watching local children play in the streets. When he visits his ancestral village with his grandmother, he witnesses a very different kind of life that he is used to in the city.

Shuvo forms a bond with local kid  Monawar, affectionately called “Moinna.” The narrative unfolds as they embark on numerous adventures in the rural backdrop of Bangladesh, skillfully capturing the essence of children’s imaginative minds—innocent, pure and free from bias.

Director Nuruzzaman’s 92 minutes long film ‘Aam Kathaler Chuti’ delves into the essence of childhood friendships and the lives of children from an era when they were not tethered to digital devices. The unfiltered reality of today’s children in the bustling city of Dhaka mirrors Shuvo’s experience.

The film showcases the rich tapestry of stories, characters, and imaginative worlds that young children create, a testament to their unparalleled creativity.

Soul (2023)

Another one of the movies screened at the festival was Soul, screened on 8 September at the Shilpakala Academy Auditorium.

“Soul,” a touching movie directed by Ahnaf Akif, goes deep into the world of mental health and how tough emotions can really affect someone’s life.

The film explores the lives of Nasa and Pritthi, two teenagers dealing with their own struggles. Nasa faces unkind parents and betrayal, while Pritthi faces financial difficulties and strained relationships. The narrative delves into the themes of failure, strained relationships, and emotional turmoil, ultimately revealing the intense emotions experienced by teenagers.

“Soul” reminds us how important it is to understand and help children with mental health issues, and shows how kindness and support can make a big difference.

Opal (2021)

Catering to children of all ages, the story of a young princess and her powers of emotions to ruin a kingdom and fix it, keeps the audience grippeed for a good 75 minutes.

In Alain Bidard’s magical kingdom, Princess Opal grapples with her emotions and the power of her sorrow to unravel the kingdom. Her happiness brings prosperity, while her sadness can cause chaos. Her father’s greed and power ambitions threaten her, but she fights for her rightful place. Her bravery and determination are a testament to her resilience. The struggle persists within her, not in the kingdom but within her own soul.

“This festival is rightfully named a ‘festival of life’,” said Shomit Anwar, a volunteer from the documentation team.

“The team emphasises that it is not merely a film festival but an event organised by young individuals with deep sincerity and love. As this year’s event comes to an end, the beautiful memories created in each young mind will create space for new ideas, films and future ambitions,” he said.


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