UNICEF Representative's Address to the Film Festival
This year the International Film Festival for Children and Youth has turned six years.
Throughout these years the Festival has been expanding and growing. It has been also evolving qualitatively, changing from mere entertainment for children and youth into a unique and important platform to advocate for children’s rights.
Last year for the first time in the history of the Festival UNICEF jointly with the Rolan Bykov Foundation introduced a new nomination – “The Best Film on Child Rights”.
It was a turning point in the Festival’s life as children’s and adult juries for the first time looked at films from a different angle. While watching through the films, they were trying to judge how well film-makers could convey the main message – the importance of children to have and enjoy their rights independently of their social status, race, religion, country or community they live in.
All children have rights, but not all children can enjoy those rights. More, some children do not even enjoy the most important of those rights, such as the right to health and education.
Many of these children happen to be living in poor families or happen to have disabilities. Their life is full of challenges and often devoid of hope for a better future. Forgotten and excluded, those children are facing multiple risks. They may die before they reach their 5th birthday, they may never attend kindergarten or school, they may never get normal health service and they may be maltreated or neglected in their families or communities. These are the world’s most vulnerable children.
Those hidden children are living beside us, they all have dreams and hopes, they all want to be successful in life, they all want to enjoy the same rights as their peers who happen not to be poor and not having any disability.
This Festival is a powerful platform from where we all can raise our voices for the excluded children, highlight their problems and challenges they are facing through the art of film-making.
Stories of those children may not be that entertaining and funny to make a film on. On the contrary, they are full of sadness, despair and hopelessness. Yet if we fail to address the problems of those children in all possible ways and using all available tools, we will fail as humans.
We have today the knowledge and the means to better the odds for every child, and we must use them. This must be our common mission.