“Delhi Dreams”, a short film made by 14 underprivileged children hailing from the capital’s slums, is being screened at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.
The movie, to be showcased at the British Pavilion on Wednesday morning, was the culmination of the meeting of fourteen students from Nai Disha, a Mission Education center of Smile Foundation during the 2017 edition of Smile Foundation’s annual gala Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFFCY).
“Delhi Dreams” depicts stories of ambition and aspiration of five underprivileged children — Roshni, Shikha, Arbaaz, Bharat, Murshed — hailing from New Delhi. Courtesy Smile Foundation, a leading pan-India development organisation, their dreams have found a platform.
The organisation has joined hands with Films without Borders (FWB) — a UK-based company that educates youth living in difficult situations around the globe — to host a filmmaking workshop for children with an objective to educate, engage and empower children through cinematic experience. After a rigorous audition, 14 children were selected for portrayal in the movie.
The children were trained under film professional Jill Samuels and award-winning photographer and cinematographer Richard Blanshard, who visited India in November 2017 to conduct this workshop during SIFFCY 2017. The product of the workshop was “Delhi Dreams”.
Arbaz, one of the 14 filmmakers, a student of Class 10, wants to become a photographer in future. His father Tahir Husain is an embroiderer by profession and mother Asma Khatun is a homemaker.
“I am excited that our movie will be screened at the biggest film platform like Cannes. I would like to thank my mentors who have helped us in making this movie. It is not just a movie, it is a dream of every underprivileged child who wants to earn name and fame. We did our best to make this movie and are confident that the audiences will love and support our work,” Arbaz said in a statement.
The film’s journey to Cannes makes Santanu Mishra, Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation and Chairman – SIFFCY, happy.
“Smile Foundation has been doing films which are creative, innovative and are a balance of the right content and the right quality, as a medium in sensitising the masses, and engaging them proactively in the process of initiating social change. I am extremely happy that we, with the help of Films without Borders, have been able to take this effort to a logical destination,” he said.
SIFFCY Festival Director Jitendra Mishra said: “The workshop has not only helped these children to unearth the raw talent but has also helped them build their confidence, enabled them to learn about themselves. We are extremely happy and proud that the film has reached such a prestigious international platform.”