Urgent need to assess impact of films: Govind Nihalani

MUMBAI: Renowned filmmaker Govind Nihalani today said there was urgent need to assess the impact of films and other initiatives taken for creating a greater awareness among the general public about the problems of the disabled.

Inaugurating the 8th edition of the first of its kind travelling educational film festival, the We Care Filmfest 2011 on Disability Issues in Mumbai, he expressed the hope that the Tata Institute for Social Sciences which had a disability centre would help in this regard.

He said it would be interesting to know if the festival, which had been held since 2003, had in fact made any impact on the institutions where it was held or on the people who had come and seen the films.

He said that the We Care FilmFest was the only festival in the world which was travelling to educational institutions including mass communications institutes and disability institutions.

Speaking at the function held at the YB Chavan Centre here, United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan National Information Officer Rajiv Chandran made a call for corporates and others to come forward to support the venture financially if it had to grow, since it was presently been run solely by Brotherhood, the non-governmental organisation which had launched it.

He said the UNIC had decided to recognise the Festival since it lived up to the aspirations of the Convention passed by the United Nations in May 2008 on the rights of the Disabled.

Renowned ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar said that parents did not often recognise a disability - especially if it was mental - early enough to take action to check it. He said that he had cone across many cases where a child was prevented from doing what he wanted just because the parents did not realise his aspirations. He hoped the Festival would correct such misunderstanding and bring about greater awarness.

Festival founder Director Satish Kapoor said he had started the Festival in a very small manner but the response had encouraged him to take it all over the country. He said this year the Festival may travel to all the SAARC countries under the auspices of UNESCO, and had also been invited to Turkey. The Festival had received films from all over the world.

This year a total number of 67 documentary films in four categories - up to one minute, up to five minutes, up to 30 minutes, and up to 75 minutes - from India and from various other countries like the USA, Canada, Israel, the UK, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Australia, Nepal etc. are being exhibited. 

Senior Consultant (Media) B B Nagpal said this was not a festival, but a mission through cinema to create greater awareness. He said an impaired person may be disabled, but the society as a whole was often handicapped because it failed to understand that the disabled did not want pity, but equal opportunity. He hailed the move by Bombay High Court Chief Justice Mohit Desai in holding a meeting with NGOs and government officers in Mumbai last week and recommending that disability should form part of the MBBS Course.

Sandeep Marwah of the Asian Academy of Film and Television said he had supported the venture from its very first year because of the importance it gave to creating awareness and for reflecting only disabled achievers in the films shown.

Rao Saheb Shekhawat, MLA Amravati; and director and story-teller Amole Gupte were also present among others. The Filmfest was launched in the presence of various local partners - both government and non-governmental - of Mumbai including the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, (AYJNIHH), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the SNDT Women‘s College,the ADAPT, the Helen Kellar Institute for Deaf & Deaf-blind and Trinayani- working on Disability Awareness and Support. Cinema Lovers is online partner and promoting the film festival through web. Other partners are Apang Jeevan Vikas Sansthan, Amarvati, Chetna Apangmati Vikas Sansthan, Kolhpur and Svyam, Thane.

The We Care Filmfest on Disability Issues was launched by Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Brotherhood in 2003 and has become a brand when it comes to film festivals on disability, both nationally and internationally. The Festival is unique in nature, as it is a travelling film festival which will travel to 25 venues across India after the Mumbai launch. Its founder partners are the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan (UNIC), UNESCO, the National Trust which functions under the Social Empowerment Ministry, and the Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT).

A Preview Committee meeting held at Marawah Studios, Noida and at the AYJ National Institute of Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai, selected 28 documentary films for the 8th edition of the We Care Filmfest.

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