(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.”
"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."