Thursday December 01, 2022

‘Our Film Festival’: Through the lens of kids living on the margins

August 28, 2022

LAHORE: Screening of 15 short films by children living in slums, in orphanages, with different abilities and transgender was the first of its kind in the country, probably anywhere in the world.

‘Our Film Festival’ was organised jointly by ‘Our Organisation’ and ‘Deaf Welfare Awareness Foundation’ and and funded solely by ‘Our Organisation’. CP Five Star distributed food among children. The films screened at Alhamra Hall 3 on Thursday were novel as they were not only conceived and filmed by the children living on the margins, the actors were also from slums, orphanages and special children. It was all about their lives. The films depicted lives of these very children.

This was made possible with the dedication of a team of Our Organisation which is steered by Ribqa Raza Malik, a film maker who is passionate about uplifting the lives of destitute and children with special needs.

These young people were mentored by Ribqa R. Malik, Usama Rahat and Asad Naeem over months.

The films were all upbeat, seen through children’s eyes. They highlighted many things such as the joy in playing together, pranks of a child to elicit response from a friend, fear of being left alone, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and values such as kindness, caring, sharing–in short creativity in children.

The films at the same time brought to light the stark reality of life in slums-full of flies, muddy lanes, shanty homes, heaps of trash, hunger and call to educate the shanty town dwellers. There was much food for thought.

The children were thrilled at the screening of their films and they shared with the audience that learning to use the camera was most exciting experience for them.

Film ‘Meer Alam’ by Buland Abbas got first prize, ‘Mai or Mera Dost’ by Ali Haider the 2nd and ‘Punjabi’ by Asim the 3rd. Some 15 films were screened; 5 by orphans, 5 by slum kids, 4 by children with special needs and 1 by transgender.

Buland Abbas is a multi-talented. He also played Dholak and Dhol on an empty water bottle, which was much appreciated by audience. The slum kids presented a dance in which they appeared summersault experts.

What was amazing was a filmmaker took initiative to help special children express themselves by enabling them to make their own films.

A special child abandoned by his mother, is being looked after by Ribqa and her friends for the last one and a half years. His film was also screened. A girl on wheelchair made a film in which she showed that a person on wheelchair is not disabled. She could do all her work herself.

Besides the films, there was a skit by differently-abled children on wheel chairs who pleaded to be allowed into paradise. The guard at paradise asks them to give reason why should they be allowed. They tell him one by one that they were abandoned and ostracized for some disability.

This skit highlighted lack of empathy and intolerance in the society.

Some 21 children from Pakhiwas Camp, a school for gypsy children in Kahna Nau performed on a song with colourful pom poms.

The festival was an amazing event where all the people seemed to know each other in a hall that was packed to capacity. It seemed like a big family that had hundreds of members but they are short of funds.