Three years after it was first introduced at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, and a year after it was opened up to the public, ‘Half Ticket’, a section comprising children’s films from India and abroad, has grown in leaps and bounds. This year, filmmaker Samina Mishra has curated the section for children from the ages of five-17, and says that the idea has always been to show films that appeal to both young and adults alike. “I work with ideas of childhood and I work with children. I don’t think they should be given sugarcoated art, that is patronising. Children today live in a very complex world and they do find ways to negotiate and navigate through that. So, we must be quite direct about the world with them,” she says. Mishra is also the co-curator of Soundphiles, an experimental listening experience, at the Asian Women’s Film Festival.
As before, the section consists of shorts, documentaries, live action and full-length features that are in competition, and will be judged by a jury of children and young adults. The only Indian entry in competition is Rohan Deshpande’s debut, Pipsi, a film about the lives of two children in a drought-stricken village in Maharashtra, and a fish that might save them.
This year, Mishra has also curated ‘The Hand of Friendship’ — a package of films, old and new, that reflect the many ways in which children form bonds of friendship, with peers, animals, and objects. Representing India is Gopi Desai’s Mujhse Dosti Karoge, winner of the Best Children’s Film at the 40th National Film Awards in 1993. Nina Sabnani’s 2005 animated short, Mukund and Riaz, about two childhood friends separated during the Partition in 1947, is one of the two Indian entries in the shorts category; along with Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s debut short, Toffee. Set in the 1990s, the film explores the lives of two imaginative pre-teen girls and their adventures.