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Young filmmakers on the big screen

The international 2013 ChildFund Connect Family Film Festival has launched this week, involving young filmmakers from Australia and around the world.

More than 700 children from Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Laos, Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and Vietnam submitted films for the festival, exploring the theme of ‘family’ and the role it plays in their lives. Over the next few weeks, film festival events will be held in all seven countries with the participation of the children, their families and communities.

Students from Barraba and Manilla, in northern NSW, attended a screening at their local theatre this week. “It`s great for the kids, especially in a small town, to become more aware of not just their country but other countries overseas, and how they live and their customs and traditions as well,” teacher Amy Berriman from Manilla Central Public School told Prime7 News in Tamworth.

The young filmmakers were involved in every part of the production process, from scripting to storyboarding, acting and editing. From over 100 short films produced by the children, 25 semi-finalists were selected and, of those, 12 finalists are being screened at the events. Children will vote on these 12 films in the categories of Best Story, Best Acting and Best Film Technique.

The Family Film Festival is part of ChildFund Connect, a global education program that uses multimedia technology to help Australian children connect and learn with their peers in developing countries.

Children created films on a wide range of topics ranging from the light-hearted, such as the tale of a dinosaur who can`t find his family €“ to hard-hitting subjects including family migration, domestic violence and alcohol abuse.

Kelly Royds, ChildFund Connect program coordinator, says: “I was really impressed by how well the children have received the films, especially on the more challenging subjects. The kids really understood and engaged with the topics €“ they acknowledged that these sorts of things happen everywhere and saw the moral lessons in the films. I was also struck by how parents and teachers received the films and saw huge potential to use them as stimuli for class discussions about family and culture around the world.”

Kelly adds that the films complemented what the children had learned from earlier ChildFund Connect activities, where they exchanged videos with their overseas partner groups about their favourite foods, games and other subjects of interest to them. Children have expressed a greater understanding about family and culture in other countries after seeing this year`s films, and showed a real sensitivity to the differences they were seeing.

“For example, they were sensitive to the spiritual undertones in some of the films, in particular, the Lao story of two girls who see a ghost and lose their spirits, and also the two films from Timor-Leste that depict parents falling ill when their children do not show them respect. It’s been a really amazing and touching experience to see the kids and parents respond to the films in this way.”

The ChildFund Connect program is supported by Australian Aid.

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