The 1st International Film Festival for the Persons with Disabilities organized by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India has collaborated with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) witnessed an eventful Day 2.

The unique three-days film festival being held at Siri Fort, Delhi started on December 1 and will conclude on December 3, which is also observed as the International day of Persons with Disabilities.

The highlights of the day 2 were the screening of the documentary, Closer attended by Gulzar and Meghna Gulzar and the workshops for children including kids with disabilities conducted Cannes award winner filmmaker Gitanjali Rao, actor Tom Alter and Dr. Alim Chandani who has hearing impairment.

While addressing the packed house of audience who came to watch Closer Meghna Gulzar said, “I made Closer 4 years ago and it is still a film, which is closest to my heart. The one thing that stayed back after making this film, was the spirit these people had to take each day head on”

“It looks like we have come forward towards the goal of inclusion. If this film can help bring that closer by a few steps, nothing will be more gratifying” She adds.

Following workshops were conducted at the festival venue for the kids:

Workshop 1:
‘Paintings that Move’ — an animation basics workshop by the Cannes winner filmmaker Gitanjali Rao, who also made the signature film of the festival.

In the workshop conducted in the garden with a small group of 35 children including kids with disabilities, Gitanjali Rao taught the kids the art of story telling through clay animation. Two short animation films were created by the children during the workshop, which will be screened at the closing ceremony on December 3rd.

Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao

Sharing her experience Gitanjali Rao, who also made the signature film of the festival said, “I absolutely enjoyed teaching them and showing them the film, I gave the kids an introduction to animation, to different forms of animation, quickly got on to one form which is ‘Clay Animation’. We showed them films, they did some animation on clay, we shot it online, we made a little film out of it and at the end as a team effort they had a little take back from the workshop.”

Talking about the Festival she said, “Obviously it’s a very good initiative and it’s surprising that we haven’t had a festival for the differently abled people in such a long time, but then it just started and I feel it’s a very powerful initiative when the government starts something like this. Then one knows it’s going to continue for a long time because the intention is there. There are NGOs starting it but in terms of the power and strength, I’m very happy that the government is taking the initiative to start it and I do believe over the years it will get more better and the involvement with the differently abled people will grow to be much more. I can see huge interest already!”

Workshop 2:

‘Working with actors-Perspectives of a director’- by actor Tom Altar.

In the workshop attended by 350 people (both abled and differently abled), Tom Alter also performed a play called Dr. Khanna written and directed by him. He wrote this play keeping his differently abled co-actor Divya Arora (Cerebral Palsy) in mind with whom he’s been working in theatre for years now. There was a special interpreter for the persons with disabilities.

Tom Alter shared an inspiring thought with everyone, “You are challenged that’s obvious, but you are working with the artists who are not challenged, so your acting must be so good that people should forget that you are challenged” He said.

Workshop 3:
‘Using visual media as a communication tool for people with disabilities’ — by Dr. Alim Chandani, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Gallaudet University who has hearing impairment.

Alim Chandani

Alim Chandani

In the workshop attended by nearly100 youngsters (both abled and differently abled) Dr. Alim Chandani, presented different creative ideas by demonstrating how successful individuals with disabilities use visual media as a communication tool.

“’I’m honoured that we’ve been asked to come here at this workshop. It is important because it gives a different perspective to the whole view. And I want to see more film makers in the audience to come and watch this and learn how to bring a change in their thinking for people with disabilities” said Chandani talking about the workshop.

Praising the festival he said, “I feel great about it, I think it’s really thrilling to see that there’s a film festival for people with disabilities and they are showing international movies on that subject already. It’s nice to see people with disabilities and their films that are being shown here. It is just one step now but later I would like to see people with disabilities take ownership of this film festival.”

Motivaltional Speaker, Divya Sharma gave an inspirational talk to the attendees.

Secretary DEPwD, Shri Lov Verma and Joint Secretary & Festival Director, Shri Awanish Kumar Awasthi enthusiastically participated in the workshops and were seen interacting with the children who participated in these workshops and the film screenings on Day 2 of IFFPwD 2015.