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Virtual children's short film festival explores themes of friendship, higher purpose and co-existing with nature

The six award-winning shorts have previously been showcased at film festivals across the globe.

September 12, 2021 / 11:39 AM IST
Still from 'Lakshmi Aayi Hai' by Swati Agarwal.

Still from 'Lakshmi Aayi Hai' by Swati Agarwal.

Co-existing with nature and friendship are among the themes being explored in a children’s short film festival organised by the Royal Opera House, Mumbai, along with the Looking Glass Film Club, Playydate and Avid Learning.

The virtual festival, from September 10-19, 2021, is showcasing six award-winning short films in different languages, including Malayalam and Hindi.

Asad Lalljee, SVP, Essar Group, CEO, Avid Learning, and Curator, Royal Opera House, Mumbai, says the aim is to promote education in the arts, personal growth, and fulfillment for their young audience. In recent times, they have also held two other virtual festivals, including Sustainability NOW: Wildlife and Environment Film Festival and Lights Camera Music: A Documentary Film Festival.

“In curating the festival, we have made a conscious effort to present, promote and educate the young minds to new media, art and storytelling, each with a distinct set of emotions, lessons and visuals,” Lalljee says.

Sample this. In Ketan Pal’s One, a one-rupee coin finds its purpose in the world in which higher currencies dominate.


Swati Agarwal’s Amrita recounts the tale of Amrita Devi and her three daughters who belong to the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, and their unusual zeal to protect nature at any cost.  Amrita that takes inspiration from Phad paintings of Rajasthan for this fictionalised version of the true story of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan.

Agarwal's second short at the festival is the light-hearted stop-motion animation film Lakshmi Aayi Hai. “In this pandemic time, when it is unsafe to step out, film festivals which showcase entertaining and impactful films is a step in the right direction,” she says.

The Candy Tree by Somnath Pal tries to capture love for an idea and the protagonist’s struggle to nurture a dream.

Still from 'Story of a Beginning' by Balaram J. Still from 'Story of a Beginning' by Balaram J.

Animator and illustrator Shaheen Sheriff’s Watchmaker at Times End, which had its premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival last year, is also part of the festival. The project started from a technical viewpoint, as Sheriff wanted to explore the concept of 3D lighting.

“When I started making the film, I didn't think I wanted to convey anything," says Sheriff. "I thought it was just a silly story that never really leaves my mind, but during the years that were spent making it, I slowly realised how closely it resonated with me,” she says. Sheriff adds that as an animator, one can completely lose themselves in the tiny little details and forget about the life that revolves around them. “The watchmaker's life (in the film) also takes a similar path. So I guess it's a reminder to not get too stuck up in your little bubble, and appreciate the world more. I still have to learn,” says Sheriff.

The Children’s Short Film Festival is available on the Royal Opera House, Mumbai’s YouTube channel from September 10 to 19, 2021.

Shaheen Sheriff’s 'Watchmaker at Times End' premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival 2020. Shaheen Sheriff’s 'Watchmaker at Times End' premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival 2020.

The movies are available on YouTube.
Deepali Singh is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist who writes on movies, shows, music, art, and food. Twitter: @DeepaliSingh05
first published: Sep 12, 2021 11:19 am
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