What To Expect At The 2018 Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival

Moments Entertainment are the company who are responsible for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival (NMCFF) which will be taking place over the weekend of 16 to 18 June. This festival is a celebration of children and broadcasting in honour of the centenary of Nelson Mandela. Firdoze Bulbulia and Faith Isiakpere from Moments Entertainment have been working in the space since 1994 helping develop children and broadcasting. The Daily Vox rounds up the work they do and what the festival is all about.

Bulbulia and Isiakpere both work with the Children and Broadcasting Foundation (CBFA) which they use as a platform to help children develop skills and educate themselves on important topics like HIV. Given that the rate of illiteracy and lack of education is more high on the continent generally, their platform uses film as an important educational tool beyond entertainment.

Bulbulia says the foundation produced the ‘Africa Charter on Children’s Broadcasting’ as well a hosted the 5th World Summit on Media for Children. The charter was adopted by all Commonwealth countries and became the main ‘guidelines’ for broadcasters in terms of children’s media in their countries.

The charter contains an article which says “Children should see, hear and express themselves through the electronic media -that reaffirms their sense of self, community and place”. Bulbulia says it is for this reason that they think it is important that children’s media is in their own languages, respecting their own cultures and values.

“It was important for us as African broadcasters and media producers to ensure that African children’s media will be placed high on the political agenda as well. When we started in 1996 South Africa was a young democracy and we needed to include children’s media rights as part of their human rights,” says Bulbulia.

Part of the foundation’s work is about supporting the education-entertainment paradigm of ensuring ‘edutainment’. Bulbulia says children learn by being entertained and that’s why the media should offer children an opportunity to engage and deconstruct.

Along with the NMCFF, the CBFA was also at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. These festivals are important for fostering pan-Africanism and building links between people on the African continent.

“Children’s film festivals offer an opportunity to learn about different people and places, the image as they say is worth a thousand words. Through films children are exposed to new and diverse environments. African children have much in common and it is our role to offer them that window to learn about each other,” says Bulbulia.

The festival is going to feature many interesting and fascinating speakers and films from all over the continent and world. Through the many partners of the CBFA, Bulbulia and Isiakpere managed to access best quality films and media projects which impressed them

“So when selecting films and speakers we sought to bring in a diversity of talent and producers. We have a wonderful support from the China International Children’s Film Festival where most of the current films in the festival were already shown and sourced for our NMCFF. We wanted a focus on BRICS and South-South partnerships,” says Bulbulia.

The pair also wanted a diversity of films that placed the child in the center and wanted to show landscapes that were not too unfamiliar to our audiences. Bulbulia says they have a great selection of films that will make the children laugh, cry, have empathy, and enjoyment.

The presenters from the festival comes from a diversity of countries and include two female animators from Iran and Dr. Milton Chen from the USA is a George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) fellow and sits on the Sesame Workshop Board. Chen and Dr. Ruth Cox will host a media literacy workshop using ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ as the subject. Thomas Kutschera is from Germany and his company producers the Dragons for ‘The Game of Thrones’. Damilare Sonoiki is a scriptwriter who writes from a ‘black identity’ perspective.

Since the festival is about celebrating Mandela, the workshops and films will hope to bring about the lessons and value of the former president.

Bulbulia says the values and messages of equality, humanity, peace and love are what needs to come out. She hopes the films provide the children with tools to always support what is right, to encourage solidarity, to respect your elders, languages and cultures.

One of the people who will be at the festival is 71-year-old Moneeza Hashmi. She is the younger daughter of the late famed Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Faiz wrote a peom for Nelson Mandela which will be performed on stage at the opening of the NMCFF 2018 and Moneeza will read the translation of the poem.

Bulbulia says this is a powerful example of how Mandela’s legacy and values have been in the hearts of many.

“It is therefore, our duty to ensure that our children will never forget this amazing icon and that this centenary year ensures Mandela’s values will be seen throughout the festival. Our focus in on children and as Mandela always supported children we have partnered with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. We are mindful of Tata Madiba’s words and it remains our mantra: ‘Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation’,” she says.

The pair have great hopes for what the festival can achieve in terms of innovation for local filmmakers.

“We hope that this festival is the beginning of placing children’s films at the centre of content for young people. South Africa does not produce any feature films for children. This festival should shine a spotlight on the opportunities in the children and youth media space,” says Bulbulia.

She says they would love to premiere a South African film for children.

“Film as a medium offers the best opportunity to open our children’s minds, hearts and soul – to listen and hear and become the leaders of our beloved continent. It starts with each of us,” says Bulbulia.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: the poem was previously attributed to Moneeza Hashimi.