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UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival concludes on a high note

Films chronicling childhood narratives from all over the world leave a lasting impression


(4 November 2019) The inaugural UNICEF Innocenti Film festival concluded on a positive note on 27 October at Cinema La Compagnia in Florence. Thirty two films from 28 countries were screened over three days, receiving enthusiastic reception from audiences. Apart from the diversity and quality of the film programme, a highlight of the festival was the panel discussions which featured dialogue between film directors and UNICEF child rights research experts.

Priscilla Idele, Director a.i, UNICEF Innocenti explained, "And while our primary mode of exploration of children’s rights is still research, we felt there is a great need to explore new innovative and more powerful ways of highlighting the challenges facing children. This is how the idea of a film festival on stories of childhood from all over the world was born. From the moment we started exploring this idea, it seemed to be something that immediately captivated people everywhere."

Twelve invited filmmakers attended the representing films made in Belgium, Iran, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Japan, Germany and Ethiopia. Among the films presented three had their world premiere, two had their European premiere and six had their Italian premieres. While films were submitted from directors of all ages the average age of the directors whose films received "Official Selection" recognition was 29 years old.   

Federico Chiarini, Channel presenter, producer for Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema, who served as moderator of the festivals Q&A sessions, said: "What I will not forget about this festival were the testimonies of the directors who intervened, often accompanied by the words of the researchers of the UNICEF Innocenti center. A film has the ability to reach the heart of its audience very quickly, but sometimes the viewer perceives that reality with distance, seeing it reproduced on the screen. The presence of the authors in the room helped restoring realism to those stories, making them real in our eyes. And now they will stay with us forever.”

UNICEF Innocenti staff and specially invited film directors at the closing ceremony of the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival at the Cinema La Compagnia in Florence, Italy.


"The festival offers the possibility of comparing and reflecting on the conditions and the problems of childhood, which is a fundamental component for every society which aims at an equal and sustainable development," said Monica Barni, Vice President of the Tuscan Region. "On this basis the Tuscany Region offered its  support to UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival, this year at its premiere edition, with the hope that it can become a laboratory of ideas and reflections also for the coming years."

Dale Rutstein, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Innocenti reflected: "We launched the festival with the hope that by bringing together film narratives of childhood from all over the world that we would be able to create important moments of reflection about the realities that children face in different contexts. I think we learned that the combination of powerful film storytelling about childhood combined with expert discussion on child rights points to a new way of advocating for children without compromising artistic standards."   

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UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival programme announced
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UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival programme announced

(16 October 2019)  A new film festival on childhood will take place from 25-27th October 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.The UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival (UIFF) will present a diverse programme of films that feature narratives of childhood from all over the world. A total of 32 films representing 28 countries—Including features, documentaries, short dramas and animation—will be screened at Cinema La Compagnia, Florence. The festival is a collaboration between the UNICEF Innocenti, Fondazione Sistema Toscana, Cinema La Compagnia, with sponsorship of the Region of Tuscany and the Municipality of Florence and in association with the Istituto degli Innocenti.UIFF also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of UNICEF’s global research centre in Florence as well as the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Istituto degli Innocenti, where UNICEF is hosted.The theme of the festival is: Growing up. Stories from all over the world. The aim is to curate the best cinema art narratives of childhood – especially from younger filmmakers – to take stock of the dynamic forces shaping children’s lives and promote reflection on their experiences in different contexts. All UIFF screenings are free of charge and seating will be available on a first come, first served basis.A frame image from 'The Hungry Lion' a Japanese film that chronicles the harsh new reality of adolescent social interaction in the age of digital devices. “Childhood is a universal theme that filmmakers return to, again and again, to connect audiences to memories of our earliest years,” says Priscilla Idele, Director a.i., UNICEF Innocenti. “Children’s experiences are the same the world over and all rights apply to all children everywhere – and that is what we are learning from the films.”The new film festival has received an enthusiastic reception in film circles. Submissions were received from over 100 countries and a total of 32 films have been designated as “Official Selections” to be screened in the three-day festival. A total of 28 countries are represented in the programme. All films will be shown in the original language with English and Italian sub-titles. Seating for all UIFF screenings and director Q&A sessions will be free of charge at Cinema La Compagnia with seats allocated on a first come first served basis. View the detailed screening programme of the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival“The festival offers the possibility of comparing and reflecting on the conditions and the problems of childhood, which is a fundamental component for every society which aims at an equal and sustainable development. On this basis the Tuscany Region offered its support to UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival,” said Monica Barni, vice president and Councilor for Culture of the Tuscany Region. The film “Anbessa,” shot in Ethiopia and directed by American Mo Scarpelli, will have its Italian premier at UIFF, having received positive notice at major film festivals around the world including the 2019 Berlinale. South African short drama “The Mattress,” directed by Neo Monyamane, will have its world premier, and several other European and Italian premiers will be included in the festival programme. “An important festival, which we strongly support, because it deals with the theme of childhood, on which there is still a lot of work to be done," said Sara Funaro, Councilor for Rights and Equal Opportunities of the Municipality of Florence. "Sensitizing on the importance of children's rights serves to turn the spotlight on those realities.”An frame image from the feature documentary 'Anbessa' about a remarkable Ethiopian boy living his life unfazed by the fact that he and his mother have been displaced from their land to make way for a massive condominium development. Anbessa will have its Italian premiere at UIFF.  While films have been submitted by directors of all ages, special consideration was given to younger filmmakers. The average age of directors in the “Official Selection” category is 29, with films to screened by filmmakers as young as 15 years old. They include works by filmmakers who have won critical acclaim in international film circles; alongside several exciting new creative works by younger filmmakers.Each night of the festival a programme of director Q&A sessions will be conducted with moderation by Annalisa Buglioni, journalist with Sky Italia. The keynote speaker at the grand opening of the festival will be Enzo d'Alò, director of animated films. Giovanni Veronesi, screenwriter and director, will be a featured guest at the festival's closing ceremony.“Even this beautiful initiative with the international scope of UNICEF Innocenti allows us today to concretely decline beauty and hospitality: the beauty of cinema as an art and culture and an instrument to turn the spotlight on childhood and its needs; the care understood as attention to the protection and promotion of the rights of children which spurs us to face new challenges for the future and to put the humanity of children at the center."The UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti receives generous core funding by the national government of Italy.For more information about films screening times and seating please visit:


UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival. Growing up. Stories from all over the world
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UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival. Growing up. Stories from all over the world