MASTERS AND CLASSICS
QUEEN OF KATWE- English/124 minutes/Director–Mira Nair/2016
QUEEN OF KATWE is based on the story of 10-year-old international chess champion Phiona Mutesi (newcomer Madina Nalwanga). Phiona spends her days fetching water and selling maize to help her family until the day she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who's also the chess team coach in Phiona's Ugandan neighborhood. He mentors her, and it's quickly clear that although she can't read or write, she was meant to play the game. But Phiona's mother (Lupita Nyong'o) is reluctant to let her daughter chase dreams when there's work to be done.
The story presents the hardships of being poor, the inspiration of a hard working teacher, the persistence of a brilliant girl who becomes a chess champion. Also the community support and celebration of the girl's achievements. Great family movie for us and our 11-year-old girl.
KUMMATTY-India/Malayalam/90 minutes/Director – G. Aravindan/1979
Kummatty is an adaptation of a Central Kerala folktale featuring a partly mythic and partly real magician called Kummatty. It is a sweet and engaging story and a visually stunning film by G. Aravindan, one of the best film makers of India and can be thoroughly enjoyed by small kids, teenagers, youth, elders and even very old people. Kummatty, the mystic and vagabond, arrives in a remote village and befriends the children there. He turns the children into animals. Chindan, the protagonist, who has been turned into a dog, runs away before he could be turned back into human form by Kummatty. Soon Kummatty leaves the village, with Chindan wandering as a dog, waiting for Kummatty’s return to help him regain his human form. All ends well later and Kummatty melts back into nature. Kummatty is considered to be one of the best in the filmography of Aravindan and like all his other films have received worldwide recognition and won several awards both at the national and international levels.
GOPI (GOOPY) GAYNE BAGHA BYNE-
India/Bengali/132 minutes/Director – Satyajit Ray/1969
The movie by the Maestro Satyajit Ray is a timeless classic with brilliant composition and structuring and conveys different meaning for different age groups. A child sees this as a well-crafted fantasy, but an adult detects the layered satire. The film contains an anti-war message, which is even relevant today. It is a film for children, it is a film for all people as it contains, fun, comedy, beautiful lyrics, historical effects, unique costume and music. Gopi Gyne Bagha Byne narrates the story about two simple village outcasts - Gopi (Tapen Chatterjee) an aspiring singer and Bagha (Rabi Ghosh) who considers dhol-playing the primary objective of his life. Satyajit Ray has directed the movie, has done the script writing, costume designing as also music. The movie is a winsome exercise in both magical realism and musical comedy. It has won multiple national and international awards, and captivated children and grown-ups alike.
CHILDREN OF HEAVEN-Iran/Persian/88 minutes/Director-Majid Majidi/1997
Nine-year-old Ali fetches his six-year-old sister Zahra's pink shoes after a cobbler has repaired them. While purchasing potatoes, Ali leaves the shoes, hidden in a bag, outside among the vegetables. A homeless man unknowingly picks up the bag, thinking it is garbage. Ali's family, living in a South Tehran neighbourhood, has financial troubles, so he fears to tell his parents about the loss of the shoes. The movie takes us through the anxiety of the children trying not to reveal the fact to their parents and how in the end they come across the lost shoes. The movies of Majid Majidi, internationally acclaimed Director, are centred on optimism, are personal, embedded, and often steer the world from a child’s unalloyed outlook. Children’s innocence will have an impact on adults, and that’s what he always wants to express. His films demystify the Iranian culture for a global audience and goes beyond language, culture, and geography.
BICYCLE THIEVES-Italian/93 minutes/Director- Vittorio Dissica/1948
“Bicycle Thieves” is an iconic movie made by the illustrious Italian director, Vittorio Dissica. Even after these long 75 years, “Bicycle Thieves” continues to inspire even the film makers of our time. The story revolves around an impoverished man whose job of pasting advertisement bills on publicity boards, requires him to own a bicycle. After much trials, he gets a bicycle, but to no avail. The bicycle gets stolen by a tramp. The film portrays the hardships of the protagonist Antonio, his struggle to redeem his lost bicycle. His twelve-year-old son accompanies him. The final twists and turns in the storyline is superbly edited and in the end, he gets a bicycle, which is not his. Bicycle Thieves bagged more than 40 International Awards including Academy Awards. Vittorio Dissica was posthumously awarded the highest honour of the Italian government, “Ordan Al Meritto Italiana for his outstanding contribution to the film industry.
Soviet Union/Russian/95 minutes/Director-Andrei Tarkovsky/1962
Ivan’s Childhood, Andrei Tarkovsky’s debut feature, is a poetic journey through the shards and shadows of one boy’s war-torn youth. Shifting between the traumatic realities of Second World War and serene moments of family life, the film is a jarring, unforgettable depiction of the impact of war on children. After the brutal death of his family by the Nazis, the 12-year-old orphan of war, Ivan Bondarev, insists on performing covert operations and reconnaissance missions for the Soviet Army by crossing the German lines unnoticed to collect information. Surrounded by the horrors and the madness of war, young Ivan is cared for almost as a son by Lieutenant-Colonel Gryaznov and Captain Leonid Kholin--who fearing the safety of the boy, tries to take him away from the enemy lines to a military school. But the Ivan thirsts to avenge the death of his parents and begs for another mission behind the front lines. In the subsequent years, Director Tarkovsky became one of the best directors ever in the history of modern cinema.
THE KID-Silent Film/53 minutes/Director-Charles Chaplin/1921
This is the debut full-length film of the maestro, Charlie Chaplin. The movie was released in 1921 and continues to inspire both kids and adults. The iconic tramp enacted by Charlie Chaplin finds himself in a bizarre situation when a small kid who was abandoned by his mother, accidentally enters his life. All his attempts to avoid the kid become futile. As the film progresses, we see the tramp and the child plodding through impoverished life trials. The seemingly comical depictions of their strange life styles, evokes hilarity as well as a sense of pain in the hearts of the viewers. The climax, is also perfectly structured with a happy ending. Even after a century of its making, “The Kid” is still watched with awe inspiring sensibility even now.
CONTEMPORARY MALAYALAM CINEMA
Kaadakalam portrays many environmental issues, societal significance and the socio-economic struggles of Adivasis. The film revolves around Kunjapoo, a 10-year-old tribal boy, who lost his mother when he was a child. He refuses to look beyond the forest that is his home. The father teaches his son to live in the forest and embrace forest life. At the same time, his father wants him to pursue education, even if it means going away. The young boy’s life undergoes a drastic change in the city. He feels suffocated in the ‘concrete jungle’ and the city life. Soon he returns back to the forest where he belongs! The debut film of Dr. Sakhil Raveendran has been shot in the picturesque terrains of Upputhara, Idukki, and a neighbouring Adivasi region. Kaadakalam gained wide appreciation and won the Kerala State Film awards for Best Children’s Film and Best Lyricist.
NANI–India (Malayalam)/77 minutes/Director – Samvid Anand/2019
Devika, noting the severe pulmonary illnesses that were badly affecting her daughter Ammu (Catherine Biji) as a result of pollution in New Delhi, decides to send her to Kochi. Kochi was a city with much less pollution as it had plenty of water bodies and greenery. There Ammu finds Deedi who is of tremendous help to her in everything. Ammu finds a new lease of life for herself interacting with even the tiniest creatures in nature. NANI, the film, unveils the mystic matters and realities that strike life as she comes in close contact with nature.
Award-winning filmmaker Samvid Anand’s first feature film “Nani” (2019) bagged three awards at the Kerala State Film Awards 2020, including Best Children's Film, Best Child Actress (Catherine Biji). The movie is produced by Shaji Mathew, Niv Art Movies and Director of Photography is the well-known Cinematographer and Director Pratap Joseph.
BONAMY-India/Malayalam/96 minutes/Director – Tony Sukumar/2022
Bonamy is a French word that loosely translates to ‘dear friend’. The film depicts the life in a picturesque village with a puppy as the main character along with two children Anju and Kuttan, aged eight and ten being the other important characters. The two children happen to reach a forest and Anju’s friend Kuttan plays some childhood pranks on her. Anju who was living with her grandfather receives a puppy as a gift from him and soon they develop a thick bonding. Later they both get separated and Anju gets trans-located to the city along with her father. The film is expected to be a hit among children and will definitely instil positive values of the need for caring helpless animals and how true love and compassion towards others results in joy and satisfaction in one’s life. The film won the Best Children’s Movie award at the Kerala State film awards, 2020
Momo in Dubai–India/Malayalam/103 minutes/ Director – Ameen Aslam/2023
Momo in Dubai is a film set in the Gulf, and the story unfolds when a man brings his wife and children to live with him in the UAE, because of his financial hardships and inability to get leave. The main character in the story Mohammed, a little boy, also known as Momo, spends his vacation there. His ambition is to visit Burj Khalifa. Momo is a little boy with sleeping issues and no matter where he is, he will go to sleep at roughly 7 PM. Billed as a children's drama, it highlights fun and emotional elements in the story plot. Ameen Aslam the Director succeeds in bringing forth the emotions of children and subsequently their parents when they realise their dreams.
GANDHI AND CO.-India/Gujarati/101 minutes/Director-Manish Saini
Two eleven-year-old boys, Mintoo and Mitra are known for two things, both are mischievous and both enjoy a very close friendship with Bharat Bhai who owns a sweet selling shop. The boys are clever but scrupulous and Bharat Bhai is an embodiment of all the teachings of Gandhi. Mintoo, who is a Super Hero Jingo fan, is forced to appear as Gandhiji in the fancy dress competition in school and now has to proclaim Mahatma Gandhi as his role model. Even though Mintoo soon starts mimicking Gandhi’s behaviour but he is nowhere close to imbibing Gandhi’s values. His deceiving ways are fetching him rewards but little does he know how these ways are pushing him into troubled waters. The movie presents several hilarious scenes but at the same time Bharat Bhai tries to inculcate the Gandhian values and valuable lessons of honesty and harmony. Director Manish Saini won the coveted Golden Lotus for his film “Gandhi & Co.” at the 69th National Film Awards, 2023.
OUR HOME -India/Manipuri/87 minutes/ Director – Romi Meitei/2018
Romi Meitei’s movie Our Home portrays the joy of having a home, dreaming of a bright future and a peaceful life. Despite belonging to an isolated fishing community of the Loktak Lake in Manipur, Chaoren the little boy (played by Master Ningthoujam Priyojit) is excelling in his studies. Even when the circumstances force his family to sell the canoe he uses every day to go to school, he travels the long distance to his school by swimming his way through the Lake. But the Government issues an eviction notice to the fisher-folk, whose only source of income is selling fish, under the Loktak Protection Act, 2006. Their only means of livelihood has been snatched away for ever and they get displaced. The pain experienced by the protagonist epitomizes the general suffering of the fisher-folk. Romi Meitei the Director is a prolific filmmaker and many of his films have been screened in world-renowned film festivals including IFFI, MIFF, IFFK, and won several awards.
India/Hindi/105 minutes/Director – Ishrat R. Khan/2022
Debutant director Ishrat R. Khan’s Guthlee Laddoo is a film about the pathetic state of education and the caste ridden society in rural India.The protagonist, a young Dalit boy Guthlee, is keen to go to school but is denied admission as his parents belong to the Chuhra caste who are traditionally manual scavengers and drain cleaners.
Guthlee's sharp intelligence and determination to get educated succeeds and the film ends on a happy note and optimism. The image of Guthlee flying into freedom with his hands spread wide, face flush with the happiness of his triumph will linger long in the minds of the audience. Guthlee bagged widespread recognition, the most notable among them being the Hiralal Memorial Award for the Best Film in Indian Languages at the 27th Kolkata International Film Festival.
TAJMAL-India/Marathi/96 minutes/Director – Niyaz Mujawar/2019
Tajmal directed by Niyaz Mujawar, shows the grim rural life, the faith, superstitions and beliefs of the village people, their travails and struggles of day to day life in a poignant manner. Bhima Konade, a 50-year old poor farmer decides to sacrifice his prized Goat named Tajmal (Taj Mahal) to his family deity and give a feast to the villagers, for the wellbeing of his ten-year-old son Baal. But his only son Baal who has developed deep affection and bonding with the goat wants to protect Tajmal- no matter what happens to his life. Baal manages to save his animal goat friend Tajmal- not only from his family but also from two village thieves and a Butcher named Shakur Mulani, who wanted to slaughter it on the festival of BAKRI EID (the festival where goats are slaughtered for feast). A National Film Award-winning filmmaker, Niyaz's second directorial venture "Tajmal" has won the award for best film on National Integration at the 67th National Film Awards, along with various international accolades.
Contemporary World Cinema
CHHELLO SHOW -India (Gujarati)/110 minutes/Director- Pan Nalin/2021
Chhello Show (Last Film Show) portrays the semi-autobiographical tale of the director Pan Nalin, his journey from a remote Saurashtra village to a creator of images. Set in the picturesque landscapes of 'Chalala', a small town in Gujarat, the movie chronicles the nostalgic story of a young boy named Samay, brilliantly played by Bhavin Rabari, his dream of filmmaking and the consequences a person faces when dreams are shattered. The movie effectively and successfully makes the audience realise the importance of striving for achieving one's dream against all odds. Chhello Show got selected as India's official entry to the Oscars, and is a gripping, endearing cinematic joyride, the director's tribute to cinema that lingers on hope and passion.
NO DOGS OR ITALIANS ALLOWED- Animation
France, Italy/70 minutes/ Director – Alain Ughetto/2022
In the Beginning of the 20th century, in Ughettera, Northern Italy, the Ughetto family decides to leave their village dreaming of a better life abroad. However, Luigi Ughetto stays back in southern France, and this brought about a complete change in the destiny of his family for ever. His grandson travels back in time revisiting their history. The film puts across the point that even though we may remember our fathers, our mothers, and our grandparents, but beyond them we don’t know anything. No Dogs or Italians Allowed is a film that is both tender and rough, intimate and historical, poetic and realistic. The sign "No Dogs or Italians Allowed" is evocative of a particular era, but it clearly resonates with the current migrant issue too. The film won the 2022 European Film Awards for the best animated feature and accolades at the 41st Annecy Animation Film Festival.
ARNOLD IS A MODEL STUDENT – Thailand/Singapore/France/Netherlands/Philippines/85 minutes/
Director – Sorayos Prapapan/2022
Taking a deceptively comic approach to contemporary social and political realities in his native Thailand, debut filmmaker Sorayos Prapapan has fashioned an original and gripping vision set in the rigid, cut throat environment of high school. Senior student Arnold (played by Korndanai Marc Dautzenberg) excels at his studies and is a frontrunner for education scholarships and accolades. Yet after returning from studying abroad in the United States, he begins to question the meaning and authoritarian practices of school itself.
The film was partly inspired by Thailand’s 2020 ‘Bad Student Movement’, a series of demonstrations carried out by students opposed to their national school system’s outdated disciplinary practices and abuses of power. Set primarily in and around a Bangkok high school, it follows the emergence of the protests alongside the emotional development of the titular student.
BIGMAN-Dutch/Netherlands/90 minutes/Director–Camiel Schouwenaar/ 2022
Bigman chronicles the story of Dylan and Youssef, who are connected by their passion for football, and in the process rediscover the power of friendship to overcome a life-changing event. Best friends Dylan and Youssef dream of becoming professional football players. One day, an unexpected event changes everything for Dylan, and he has to come to terms with his new life. He does not want to let go of his dream and is still determined to win the Touzani Cup together with Youssef! Thanks to the help of skater girl Maya - whom he has a crush on - he learns to play football in a completely new way. Bigman is a film about true friendship, not giving up, resilience and striving to win. The movie won countless awards at several internationally acclaimed film festivals.
SINGO- Farsi, Iran/81 minutes/ Director – Alireza Mohammadi Rouzbahany/2022
The story of Singo, sheds light on crucial roles played by brave girls and women in society. Shafa lives with her father and two siblings, who belongs to an orthodox fishing community in the island of Singo. One day Shafi's dad catches some very rare crabs called horseshoe crabs, whose blood is worth a lot of money. But Shafa feels bad for the animals and releases them into the sea at night. Anger and blame fall on her father and the whole family faces the unpleasant consequence of being expelled from the Island. The brave girl sets out for a nearby island to save her loved ones. Shafa and her sister both sacrifice themselves, one to save the environment and the other to save her family. The film has been widely appreciated and conveys an important message of conservation of our precious flora and fauna.
BETWEEN THE CLIFFS –
Farsi, Iran/78 minutes/ Director–Mokhtar Abdollahi/2021
This brilliant film puts across the message that it’s not important where you are living, what you are doing and how old you are… what’s important is that whatever be the circumstances, you understand the true meaning of life and you try to fight and overcome any adversity. The story is about a young boy and his little sister who take their sheep for grazing to a range in the heights of a mountain. Ibrahim (brilliantly played by Hamidreza Ghaibi) and his little sister Ilma (Andia Yahyapour has put in a sterling performance) reach the isolated mountains and Ibrahim slips and falls down and ends up on a ledge with an injured foot. Now Ilma has to manage on her own in that isolated place, as Ibrahim struggles to climb up with his injured foot but fails repeatedly. But his perseverance pays off in the end and he succeeds. The movie chronicles several gripping moments of the ordeal they both undergo and how they both support each other in such times of need. Between the Cliffs is the debut feature film of Mokhtar Abdollahi and received wide acclaim at several prestigious film festivals.
THE SECRET OF TWO-HEADED DRAGON ( když draka bolí hlava)-
Czech Republic/Czechian/99 minutes/Director-Dusan Rapos/2018
Barbora and Tom find a map to an ancient fairyland while spending their holidays with their grandparents in the blacksmith’s shop ‘Under the Dragon Rock’, where the unusual helper, the two-headed dragon, Smokey, works flat out. The mighty dragon befriends them. With the Dragon’s help, they start an adventurous journey to find the magical place. Smokey, whose one head speaks Czech and the other Slovak, begins to tell a story about the Dragon Kingdom, the love of Princess Adele and Prince John, the long-lasting curse, the malicious dragon, the goblin Spit up, the mystery of the Forget-me-not Meadow, the lost dragon egg and a couple of kangaroos. The Secret of the Two Headed Dragon (2018) were seen by millions of spectators not only in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic but also abroad. Dusan Rapos, the Director is well known in the European cultural circles.
JOURNEY TO YOURLAND
Slovakia, Belgium, Czech Republic/86 minutes/ Dir: Peter Budinsky/ 2022
10-year-old Riki runs away from home following a mysterious emergency signal that leads him all the way to a breath-taking parallel world called Yourland, where wonderful machines roam golden deserts, monkeys and ravens talk, and science symbiotically coexists with nature. But his journey brings Riki into the eye of a hurricane: a power struggle keeps Yourland in a strong grip, threatening – even literally – Riki’s weak heart.
SAND FLAKES - Israel/Hebrew/90 minutes/ Dir: GititKabiri, YahelKabiri/2023
David, a sensitive, creative teenager, lives in Southern Israel with his sick mother, his father who gave up his dreams, and his young brother. He discovers an online writing forum and starts publishing his family stories under the fake identity of the rich kid "Nadav". As he gets entangled in his lies, he is afraid of losing his new forum friends, and being exposed by his family. The situation undermines the delicate fabric of the family.
DETECTIVE AGENCY HENKKA & KIVIMUTKA
Finland/Finnish/97 minutes/ Dir: JarkkoFelin, VäinöWeckström/2022
Henkka Virtanen finds evidence of a possible crime on his way to school. With his friend J.K. Kivimutka, the boys decide to investigate what has happened, because these criminal cases are the responsibility of the detective agency they have set up. When it turns out that mailboxes in the area have disappeared during the night, the detective bureau has already two crimes to solve. A fun and exciting adventure begins, in which the boys also have to face their own fears.
ALFONS JITTERBIT – CLASS TRIP CHAOS!
Germany/German/92 minutes/ Dir: Mark Schlichter/2022
In a last-minute dash across town, Alfons just barely manages to catch the bus for his class trip to the Baltic Sea. Things worsen when he discovers that his suitcase has been mixed up with that of his mother. But the crowning disaster comes in a desperate attempt to impress his new classmate Leonie. Alfons decides to contest for the post of Class President. Unfortunately for him, his arch-enemy Nico immediately realizes what he is up to and challenges him to a stupid bet. The fun continues and Alfons‘ fate as an eternal jinx takes its usual course! Flying macaroni with tomato sauce, a teacher who would love to send him home, exciting nights around the campfire and a dangerous climbing tour turn the class trip into one that Alfons and his friends will never forget.
SCHOOL OF HOPE-
Morocco/ Arabic/78 minutes/Director-Mohammed El Aboudi/2020
School of Hope is an intimate and charming portrait of optimism in the harshest of environments. In the vast expanse of desert East of Atlas Mountains in Morocco, seasonal rain and snow once supported livestock, but now the drought seems to never end. Hardly a blade of grass can be seen, and families travel miles on foot to get water from a muddy hole in the ground. Yet the children belonging to the OuladBoukais Tribe willingly ride donkeys and bicycles or walk for miles across rocks to a “school of hope” built of clay. The is just one of many rural communities around the world struggling to establish adequate schooling for students despite the roadblocks of their environment and the apparent indifference of their government. The film won several awards at prestigious international festivals.
SISTERS: THE SUMMER WE FOUND OUR SUPER POWERS-
Nine-year-old Vega and her five-year-old sister Billie, along with their Dad goes on an overnight hike in the Norwegian forests. As they were enjoying the trip full of adventure and happy moments, an unforeseen accident takes place. Their dad falls into a mountain crack and twists his ankle and becomes immobile. He asks the girls to go to the nearby village and get help from the villagers to take him out. The film chronicles the difficulties the girls encounter in locating the nearby village and find people. However, after several magical and mysterious moments and incidents, they manage to succeed in their mission and help their father.
MY LITTLE SISTER-Russian /95 minutes/Direction: Alexander Galibin/2020
Jamil (Yamil) lives with his mother and grandmother in a small Bashkir village. He is waiting for the war to end and his soldier father to return home. But until then, Jamil who has not yet seen his father, has to be content with the letters and photos he sends. One day Jamil’s mother unexpectedly travels to the far away city and brings a strange girl home. Reserved and jumpy little Oksana does not speak a word and prefers to spend her time in the safe house. With a lot of patience and empathy Jamil tries to teach Oksana his language and encourages his “little sister” to play. As time passes, the shy girl opens up. The war is over at last, but Jamil’s father simply does not return. Finally, the boy finds out the bitter truth about Oksana’s origins.The film won great appreciation at the 25th International Film Festival for Children and Young Audience, SCHLINGEL and won the Commendation of the Ecumenical Jury, Chemnitz 2020.