2019 is a year of three important anniversaries for children. The world is marking the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989 – 2019) – the global human rights treaty which guides all nations’ actions for children. The city of Florence is commemorating the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Ospedale Degli Innocenti (1419 – 2019), the world’s oldest centre of care for vulnerable children. And UNICEF is marking the 30th year since it established its global research centre in Florence, known today as the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti.
In celebration of these three anniversaries, UNICEF Innocenti has decided to expand upon its traditional role generating evidence for advocacy and action for children, to inaugurate an international film festival focusing on narratives of childhood from all regions of the world. We are delighted to have forged a partnership with Fondazione Sistema Toscana, Cinema La Compagnia, the Region of Tuscany and the Municipality of Florence, bringing you the first UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival.
Children’s rights are timeless, while the circumstances of childhood have changed dramatically since the CRC was signed in 1989. Great strides have been made but complex new threats have also emerged. Far fewer children succumb to illness and malnutrition; yet violence, the rise of technology, mental health, displacement and climate change introduce complex new threats that were unheard of three decades ago.
Why a film festival on childhood?
The aim of UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival is to curate the best cinema art narratives of childhood – especially from younger filmmakers – to take stock of the dynamic forces shaping childhood and promote reflection on children’s experiences in different contexts. In planning this festival, we were motivated by the awareness that there are many global cinema traditions that have produced compelling bodies of work depicting childhood. Childhood is a universal human theme that filmmakers everywhere return to, again and again, to connect audiences to memories of the forces that shape our lives in the earliest years.
By creating a special event to highlight the most compelling and authentic narratives of childhood on film – from as many regions and cultures of the world as possible – we can create a unique opportunity to appreciate the power of cinema to reconnect us to the reality of childhood. In the process we hope to develop a new way to make the needs of children more urgent and more indelible.
We have consciously avoided the selection of many well-made films that overtly advocate for social or political action. We wanted to inaugurate UIFF as a platform to explore the potential of cinema as a tool for reflection and discussion about childhood. The goal is to explore a new and different channel to make the full humanity of every child the highest priority.
We are very excited by the films that we are sharing with you at this new festival. We were impressed by the quality, diversity and sheer number of entries that were submitted from more than 100 countries. They include works by filmmakers who have won critical acclaim in international film circles; alongside several amazing new creative works by younger filmmakers.