Accessibility takes centre Stage at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival

Accessibility takes centre Stage at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival

Special film screenings to facilitate participation of persons with disabilities in MIFF 2024.

MIFF 2024

Mumbai: In a special effort to take the joy of films to diverse sections of the society at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival 2024, NFDC has partnered with Svayam, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting accessibility and inclusion, to make the MIFF venue accessible for all the cinephiles. Apart from this, there will be a special screening of four Divyangjans films/episodes on 19 June 2024 to allow persons with Disabilities to also enjoy films at MIFF 2024.

Through structural and logistic changes and identifying the best practices for accessibility standards, the partnership with Svayam is striving to make the NFDC -FD premises which is also the venue for the 18th MIFF, disabled-friendly. This initiative marks the first time in MIFF's history that such paramount importance has been placed on venue accessibility, setting a new standard in the realm of film festivals.

As the Accessibility Partner for the upcoming week-long event, Svayam has made several efforts to ensure that MIFF 2024 is truly inclusive and accessible to all. The organisation conducted comprehensive accessibility audits of the festival venue at NFDC – Films Division premises, providing tailored solutions to enhance accessibility in accordance with universal best practices.

For the first time ever, the entire festival team will be sensitised and trained to ensure a culture of inclusivity and empathy. “This time we will not only ensure the venue is accessible to the Divyangjans but also ensure the volunteers engaged in the festival are also trained appropriately to handle the differently abled at the festival.” says Festival Director, Shri. Prithul Kumar.

Svayam also conducted an exclusive sensitization training session at the MIFF premises, on 13th June 2024. The training session engaged 120 plus organisers, including senior officials, stakeholders, volunteers, and staff members. The session focused on fostering awareness and understanding of proper etiquette and terminology to help the team especially when interacting with film lovers and attendees with reduced mobility, including individuals with hidden disabilities, pregnant women, children, and senior citizens.

The sensitization training session covered a range of topics, including: Understanding Disability; Difference between Disability and Impairment; Understanding 21 disability as per RPWD ACT 2016; Models of Disabilities; What is Barrier free environment? Types of barriers with examples; Disability Etiquettes; Using right Terminology.

Additionally, participants engaged in simulation exercises to gain firsthand insight into the barriers faced by individuals with reduced mobility, followed by interactive user group discussions to share experiences and insights.

"Accessibility is a fundamental right, and we at Svayam are committed to ensuring spaces are welcoming to all. Our collaboration with MIFF 2024 is a significant milestone in promoting inclusivity within the film festival landscape.” Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder-Chairperson of Svayam, expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership. “By prioritizing accessibility, we are not only opening doors for individuals with reduced mobility but also paving the way for a more inclusive future where diversity is celebrated with dignity."

Taking the effort forward, some screening at the 18th MIFF 2024 have also been designed in a manner that will allow persons with disabilities to watch and enjoy film. “The 18th Mumbai International Film Festival showcases Accessible Films. There will be films with Indian Sign Language and closed captions for the audience who have hearing disabilities and also films with audio description for the visually challenged. Also there will be a film ‘Cross Over’ with live dance using the Indian Sign language,” stated Festival Director, Shri. Prithul Kumar at the Curtain Raiser Press Conference for 18th MIFF 2024.

The special screening of Divyangjan Films will also be showcased at the Festival to allow persons with Disabilities to also enjoy films at MIFF 2024. The films are-

 1.  THE CROSSOVER (ISL/English - 21 minutes) by Methil Devika

The Crossover is a short film that captures a dance performance where the dancer seamlessly integrates the Indian Sign Language with the aesthetic sign language of Mohiniyattam – an Indian classical dance form of Kerala, to explicate the narrative.

2. Little Krishna (English) with Indian Sign Language by Ish

Episode 3: The Horror Cave (22 mins) and Episode 8: Challenge of the Brute (23 mins)

When Lord Krishna was enjoying his childhood pastimes with his friends in the forest of Vrindavana, a demon named Aghasura, instigated by Kamsa, appears intending to kill them all. Also in the village of Vrindavana, one demon named Arishtasura terrorizes the inhabitants, prompting them to seek protection from Krishna. Krishna confronts the demons, effortlessly defeating them.

  3. Jay Jagannath (Hindi - 36 mins) by Shripad Warkhedkar

Lord Jagannath, incarnated as a child named Jagan, and his devoted follower Balaram. It explores their adventures and incorporates folktales, blending mythology and friendship narratives.

MIFF 2024's commitment to accessibility underscores its dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone can fully participate in the celebration of cinema. Joining hands with Svayam, MIFF sets a precedent for other festivals to follow, demonstrating that accessibility is not only achievable but essential for creating truly enriching experiences for all attendees.