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Films of the children, by the children.
What emotional upheavals does a boy go through when he discovers the first hair of his moustache? What does a girl who’s been bullied do when she sees another child being pushed around? How does a child cope when people mock her because she’s fat?
These, and many such complex subjects, come up at the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) in the form of films by children in the age group of four to 12. Among them is The Children of Nomads which explores the cultural differences between city and nomadic children by bringing them together. Children as young as six, like Shruti Rai, were involved in the making of this 10-minute national award winning film. “We shot the movie in Rajasthan where I also got to learn the Kalbelia dance,” says Shruti.
The film, like the others, is a result of workshops held by the Chinh Early Education Web Channel for a series called ‘Growing Up’. “More than being a learning experience for children, these films have helped adults to understand children growing in this culture of conflict,” say film and culture activist couple Meenakshi Vinay Rai, also founders of Chinh.
The festival also brings one of India’s first pre-school documentaries, Raghu’s World, which captures the many moods of a two-and-a-half-year old boy who has found some kittens in a shop. Then there are films that just happened. Like The Centipede by 13-year-old twins Chirayu and Chirantan Prahlad. “We were outside the National Museum of Natural History when we came across this centipede,” says Chirantan, a Class VII student of Sanskriti School, Delhi. For the next few minutes, the centipede became their star.
“Children’s films are being screened at DIAF for the first time,” says festival’s director Pratibha Prahlad. The idea, she says, is to harness children’s creativity as early as possible “because art makes us better human beings”.