The short documentary ‘Antara’ tells the story of lockdown through the eyes of a young girl living in a densely populated neighborhood in Bangladesh
‘Antara’ by Bangladeshi director, Farid Ahmad, has won the ‘Best Film, Childhood in the Pandemic’ at the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival 2021 (UIFF). The festival, which is organized by UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti, celebrates films that have skillfully captured what it means to be a child today. Taking place on October21-2 in Florence, Italy, the festival featured 38 films from 29 countries.
The short documentary ‘Antara’ tells the story of lockdown through the eyes of a young girl living in a densely populated neighborhood in Bangladesh. The jury selected this film because of its ability to convey the young protagonist’s sense of entrapment.
“The sudden reality of being confined brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic affected children psychologically. It led to feelings of isolation and affected their dreams. The film came about trying to capture those experiences and tell their story”, said director Farid Ahmad.
UIFF has introduced the Iris Award to recognize excellence in filmmaking about children and to encourage exploration of childhood all over the world as a cinematic theme. In its second edition, the response has been encouraging with a total of 1700 films submitted for consideration from 114 countries.
“The pandemic has taken a great toll on children’s mental and physical health in Bangladesh and around the world. ‘Antara’ is a moving portrayal of the loneliness and isolation that children felt during lockdowns”, said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. “The direct – and indirect – impact of this pandemic will linger with children for years to come.”
The honour for the best overall film at UIFF is the ‘UNICEF 75 Iris’, created to mark UNICEF’s 75th anniversary, now being celebrated around the world. An international jury selected ‘A Scarecrow’ written and directed by self-taught Nepali filmmaker, Rajesh Prasad Khatri, for the top award. Rajesh Khatri, who is also a schoolteacher, accurately depicts the cultural barriers that often prevent young girls from gaining an education.