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Good response to children's film festival

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Encouraging sign:A section of audience watches a film at the Children's Film Festival at Alliance Francaise in Chennai. —
Encouraging sign:A section of audience watches a film at the Children's Film Festival at Alliance Francaise in Chennai. —

S. Aishwarya

But enthusiasts say such festivals are not being held frequently

CHENNAI: As the film credits begin to fade out from the screen, the auditorium fell into an immediate hush. Chanticleer, the rooster hero of ‘Rock-A-Doodle,' crooned on screen, evoking giggles from the auditorium.

The dark auditorium, sans the smell of butter popcorn, was full to its capacity of 120 seats, with 80 of them occupied by kids. It was part of the ongoing Children Film Festival of Alliance Francaise and UTV World Movies. The festival attracting parents and children equally has so far been overwhelmingly successful, says Tara Rhine, cultural coordinator, Alliance Francaise.

“We've selected a medley of classical and contemporary films that would draw the attention of kids. We have also chosen an adventure film to attract kids,” she adds.

While it has been conducted annually at Alliance Francaise, film enthusiasts say such festivals are not a frequent affair in the city. Vacation is a period when festivals of films from different countries take off one after another drawing film enthusiasts from across the city. Film festivals for children, however, have not been doing the rounds for quite sometime.

The Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation president B. Ramakrishnan finds the trend of organising film festivals in the city a “tested and failed concept.” The foundation conducted festivals of a similar kind earlier but had to give up owing to waning response. “Most children are busy watching television and initiating them into films through festivals is not yet successful here,” he says.

The lukewarm response for the release of animated films in the city is certainly a dampener. “Even the annual International Children's Film Festival conducted in Hyderabad has not really receiving the response it deserves. Despite being meticulously chosen and highly entertaining, the films fail to draw a good number of viewers,” a source in the film industry observes.

Madras Film Society had to discontinue the film festival for children as it was commercially unviable. “We had to pay a huge rent for halls but did not see houseful screenings,” says secretary A.G. Ragupathy.

Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, meanwhile, has on the cards a screening of a film for children. It would screen ‘Hen in a boat,' a German film, in July as part of its 12-day children's exhibition.

M. Ganeshmohan, a schoolteacher and regular to film festivals, says that the films screened at the children's film festivals are primarily animated movies and popular ones. “We get those kinds of films in DVD format everywhere. Film festivals usually screen the rare films of each country but film festivals for children, however, are not carefully planned.”

He suggests that organisers should select unique collections of children films from different countries. “I had once taken my children to an Iranian film festival. I was apprehensive that they might not follow the subtitles. But they were so engrossed in the film that there no need for all that.”

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