Two short animation films created by the children with disabilities during a workshop conducted by Gitanjali Rao, Signature Film of the Film Festival and the video message of Salman Khan were screened at the closing ceremony of the 1st International Film Festival for the Persons with Disabilities.

The unique three-days film festival held at Siri Fort, Delhi from December 1-3, organized by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, in collaboration with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) concluded on Thursday, December 3rd, which is also observed as the International day of Persons with Disabilities.

The Chief Guest of the Closing Ceremony were the Hon’ble Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister for State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Vijay Sampla and the guest of honour film actor Vivek Oberoi, were present for the occasion.

Sanjay Suri, Jury members Marco Mueller, Amir Bashir, Jayshree Raveendran, Siddharth Kak, Rajesh S Jala, Arun Chadha, Shri Lov Verma Secretary, Awanish K. Awasthi, JS, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dept. of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities were present during the Closing Ceremony.

The awards to the winners were presented by Hon’ble MoS, I&B Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore”

· Best Film: Chotoder Chobi

· Best Documentary Feature – Algorithms

· Best Documentary – Goonga Pehelwan

· Best Short Film: Fingertip

· Best Director for Documentary Film: Amrita Dasgupta for The new Girl in Class

· Best short film director: Julia Koloenakova for Predators of Transylvania (The only film in the festival by a disables filmmaker)

· Special Jury Mention for the Director of Yellow, Mahesh Limaye
Special Jury Mention for Directors of Documentary and short film category: (No Trophy only Certificate will be given)

· If I don’t Lose, I will Lose

· It”s Cricket No?

· Rehearsal of Tolerance
Vivek Oberoi said, “This is a fantastic initiative. I’m very happy to see so many films sensitizing the public towards the differently abled people in our society and we are talking about inclusiveness. I request the Hon’ble Ministers to consider changing the term Disability to differently abled special people”.

While narrating a personal story he said, “My niece Pashmina is a special child and as a family we went through a lot of struggles to admit her in a school. We wanted to give her a normal childhood and upbringing. She’s ten years now and she is a star her school today. She competes with all the normal children athletics and beats them all. She’s the no. 1 gold medalist in her school and her friends and teachers help her in her studies. It’s beautiful to see her grow up in that environment and we need to create the same environment in our country for the specially abled people.”

Hon’ble MoS, I&B Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore congratulated Shri Thaawarchand for organizing the first film festival of this kind. He said “Such festivals help people understand the kind of challenges persons with disabilities face and sensitize them to their needs.” He added, “The power of cinema is unparalleled. The films that are made for especially abled people are not to evoke sympathy but to sensitize the society”

Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, congratulated the organizers and the winning filmmakers and said, “With this festival I can already see the success of what we initiated. Films are an important medium to spread the message on the cause of disabilities and inclusiveness.”

Shri Gehlot welcomed Vivek Oberoi’s suggestion of replacing the term ‘Disabilities’ with ‘Differently abled special people’ but added, “The term ‘Persons with Disabilities’ has been approved by United Nations after a lot of discussions and India has signed the document. So in the present scenario we will have to stick to the same term.”

Shri Awanish K. Awasthi, JS, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, said, ” This film festival is going to be an annual feature and we wish to take it to greater heights in the coming years.”

Marco Muller, head of jury, Feature Films said, “India is already becoming inclusive and I really wish that in our western countries we could be as proud as you are of what has been done for the empowerment of the persons with disabilities. This time it really has been an experience, a process to be a part of the jury, because through films you can understand the emotions better and it made us understand the life of the person with disability”

Siddharth Kak, jury of Documentary and Shorts said,, “It is the first festival of its kind, so for us to only judge it from cinematic values was difficult. What we decided was content is also extremely important in a festival which is for the persons with disabilities. I want to congratulate the Ministry of Disabilities and NFDC for this wonderful initiative.”

Margarita With A Straw was the closing film of the festival. Malini Chib, on whose life Kalki’s character in the film is based, was present at the screening. She said, “I think there should be more and more festivals like this, more people, more students who should come and watch the movies and understand more about disability. Congratulations and keep it up.”

Mahesh Limaye said, “Thank you so much for watching my film “Yellow”. I am truly honored by your appreciation. Thanks to Organizers and the jury members. I want Yellow to reach every school in our country. Every student in our country should watch the little mermaid Gauri’s story, her efforts, hard work and get inspired to be an achiever in life.”

Gulzar Saab’s poetry in Meghan Gulzar’s Closer –

Animation videos made by kids at Gitanjali Rao’s workshop –

Second animation video –