The India International Youth Film Festival provided a new vista for youthful self expression and cinematic creativity.

Delhi has traditionally been a vibrant centre for pan Indian cultural activities. Festivals showcasing music, dance, theatre and films from across the country find many organised fora here. A more recent development (going back about five years or so) has been the increased sampling of international fare that is available. The India International Youth Film Festival was another example of this. The three-day long event held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University is a joint effort of the JNU Faculty Club and FACES (Folk Arts, Cultural and Educational Society).

The festival, now in its second year, was held this week and saw participation from more than 20 countries, including Australia, the U.S., France, Germany, Iran, the U.K., Syria, Palestine and Afghanistan. It is one of the few open format festivals in the country wherein a range of films, from those shot on mobile cameras to hi-tech equipment are eligible. Part of the festival's goal is to empower common people by encouraging them to shoot with whatever format they have access to. This year there were 311 entries out of which 90 films were screened in the competitive and non-competitive sections. The adjudicators included Tinu Anand, Vinod Dua, Bijon Das Gupta, Dolly Thakore, Anirudh Behl, Sushma Seth and Ramola Bachchan.

Wide ranging issues

An eclectic range of films was showcased covering issues like education, health, environment, human rights and domestic violence, etc. Vikrant Pawar, the maker of a short film titled “The Watch Clinic” describes his work as a slice-of-life style depiction of a young boy on the brink of manhood. It goes on to explore the juxtaposition of the value systems of two different generations. “Sun in Smog” by Ahmad Ahmadpur of Iran is the story of a small boy who upon hearing about the recently brought out caricature of Prophet Mohammed in Denmark decides to do something in reaction. His chequered journey leads him to the conclusion that Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ were both messengers of human unity and dignity.

On the edgy side of perspective is the Australian film “Double Date” by Smolen wherein an impressionable young man tries to juggle two girls at the same time with disastrous results. As much a slapstick comedy as a critique of contemporary youth culture the film evoked an enthusiastic audience response.

Lav Bhargava, chairman of the festival describes it as a forum for young filmmakers to showcase their craft to the perspicacious world of cinema lovers, break into the mainstream and for exchange of cultural and social ethos of film producing countries. And this festival made a fairly meaningful attempt to move towards that ideal.