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Movies, Magic and Mobilisation
By Karen Laurie
Mumbai, Jan. 18. ''The small thought in your mind could be the next big thing in the world. Challenge yourselves, the next big film will be made by me. The next big idea that will change the world, will be by me,'' Father Savio Silveira, Vice Provincial of the Salesian province of Mumbai, said to youngsters, as he inaugurated the Don Bosco Youth Film Festival of India (DBYFFI) at Khalsa College in Mumbai. ''Through this festival we provide a platform for your ideas. Constantly look within yourselves, find new ideas and pass it to the world,'' Father Silveira, added.
(L-R) Fr. Joaquim Fernandes, sdb, Regional Delegate, Boscom South Asia, Mr. Sundeep Malani, Actor, Director, Malani Talkies, Dr. Allan D`Souza, Vice-Principal, Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Matunga, Chief Guest, Fr. Savio Silveira, Vice-Provincial of the Salesian Province of Mumbai
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DBYFFI aimed at promoting positive images of peace, hope and compassion among the young, will be screened at more than100 venues across 20 states in India on January 18-19. The annual festival will showcase 34 short films that have been meticulously selected by a panel of experts from among 900 submissions. The films focus on eco awareness, respect for parents and teachers, alcoholism, social media addiction, teenage problems, peer group pressure, social responsibility, sense of God, ethics of relationships, friendship, hard work, creativity and oppression amongst others.

''These short films help imbibe values that are not available through formal education. So we are very open to it.'' Dr Allan D'Souza, Vice-Principal of Khalsa College, said. As the movies were played, the audience comprising over 500 students at the college auditorium were exposed to silent, animated, Indian and international films.

Post each film, the festival organisers in collaboration with the college staff,  engaged the students in thought-provoking discussions. After the screening of 'Never give up', where a paraplegic is seen over-coming his disability through sheer grit and hard-work, the students were prodded, ''When you ride your bikes rashly, do you think of the consequences of your action?'', ''Make responsible choices, remember your family and your loved ones,'' and ''If something inadvertent were to happen, never give up. Hope in God, and you will rise.''

Masura Shaikh, a first year commerce student, was part of the audience. ''This is a great way to inspire us and develop our mindset. From 'Never give up' I learnt, unless you take a step and move forward, you will never know what you can achieve.''

For the young audience, this may not be have been their multiplex cinema experience but one under the supervision of their professors, in the formal setting of their college. Nonetheless, the students were seen laughing, clapping and even teary-eyed, as they identified with different scenes in the films. ''It is a fun movie experience for us in college, coupled with learning,'' Suman Kasurde, a first year accounting and finance student, said.  

''We have selected films to appeal to youth pan-India, whether rural, urban or tribal. The films should arouse the same emotions, among all audiences, irrespective of geography, language and culture. Not just the youth, the festival is also aimed at those directly influencing youth like parents and educators.'' Sabrina Alathi from the DBYFFI jury, said.

Titles like 'Class of Rowdies', which focuses on the plight of a young teacher who meets a class of rowdy students or 'The Right Decision' a film that stresses on the values of education and hard work, will feature prominently among titles like, 'Thank You Teacher', 'Teenage Love', 'Study Hard', 'A Cup of Positivity'' and 'Happiness'. The films are from countries like the US, Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Singapore, South Africa, France, Germany, Malaysia, UAE and India

Boscom South Asia -the joint communication division of all the states of Don Bosco institutions in India - is organising the film festival, which is now in its third edition. '' We are targeting 8- 10 lakh viewers this year. Next year, we plan to take the festival globally, across 132 countries, where Don Bosco institutions work,'' Father Joaquim Fernandes, Regional Delegate of Boscom South Asia, said.

In Mumbai alone, the festival will being held at 20 venues. At the Don Bosco Matunga campus, the screening for marginalised youth, saw street boys from Don Bosco Shelter, evening and night study boys of Don Bosco High school and youth from the slums of Dharavi that the Don Bosco Development office works with, as part of the audience. The film-appreciation sessions were in Hindi, to maximise participation. Not pop-corn and fizzy drinks, but the youth were  treated to a sumptuous meal, post the marathon movie session.

Innovative means have been adopted by organisers to garner maximum eyeballs. Away from the city, a travelling cinema is on the road in Jawhar in Maharashtra where the Don Bosco is taking the festival to villages. A car armed with a  projector, is entertaining and educating villagers. In each cultural territory the movie will be discussed in their own language.

In Sindhudurg, on the borders of Maharashtra, local theatre artistes have come forward to promote the festival as a medium for positive change. Their presence has helped engage the audience in healthy dialogue.

In the hilly terrain of the North-East of India, where couriering the films has posed a challenge to the organisers in the past, an organiser flew down with the films to one state, from where delegates of seven states collected it. The youth festival will now be held in the tribal belts and educational institutions across the region.

Most Don Bosco run institutions like schools, colleges, oratories, parishes, coupled with government-run and secular educational institutions, are hosting the festival. Community centres, youth groups, villages and tribal regions are also benefiting from the positively- themed films.

''Shorts films have an enormous potential. It is obviously, one of the easiest, modern, attractive, entertaining, cost-effective means through which we can communicate powerfully to the young people of India. Don Bosco is spearheading this unique annual feature pan India, as a guardian affirming the rights and duties of the young people towards the nation and the society,'' Father Harris Pakkam, Patron of DBYFFI, said.

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