33rd ICFF Awards Presented// First Middle Eastern Online Festival in Corona Days

Following a six-day virtual execution, the 33rd International Film Festival for Children and Young Adults (ICFF) came to an end, and the awards were presented to the winners in the Iranian and International Competitions sections.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, festivals like the Giffoni International Film Festival, the Venice International Film Festival, and the Munich International Film Festival have been held with full observance of the health protocols to be a ray of hope for distraught people. The 33rd ICFF was also aimed at providing joyous moments for children and teenagers in such hard circumstances.

Due to the significance of the full observance of the health protocols, the 33rd ICFF was differently held. While most of the sections were virtually held, only the feature films were screened at the Festival Venue with a limited number of the cast and crew in attendance.

The 4th Iranian Youth Filmmaking Olympiad was also held online. The olympiad, which consisted of a number of online workshops, wrapped up by presenting the winners with gold, silver, and bronze medals in two sections. The Iranian Youth Filmmaking Olympiad is one of the most significant filmmaking events since it could guarantee the young participants’ careers as future filmmakers.

At the closing ceremony, the director of the 33rd ICFF and the managing director of Farabi Cinema Foundation, Alireza Tabesh, pointed to the 33rd ICFF as the first virtual film festival in Iran and said, “From now on, we’re going to witness a new kind of collaboration in children’s cinema. VODs can directly reflect audiences’ viewpoints. On the other hand, filmmakers and content producers can provide young audiences with what they want.”

Tabesh added, “We could have easily canceled the ICFF, but we felt the need to show the world that cinema is alive even in such hard circumstances. We insisted on paying our dues and shining a ray of light upon people’s broken hearts.”

This edition of the festival was virtually held. The web series section has been recently added to the festival. The number of submissions to the web series section shows this section has become more popular among people. The workshops were also virtually held in two national and international sections. The seven international workshops, run by international instructors, received positive feedback. Chandra K. Jha, one of the workshop instructors, said, “The reach of the virtual world is much larger as compared to a physical event, which is the greatest advantage. We all are learning to adapt ourselves to the new normal.”

Due to the significance of the full observance of the health protocols, no international guests attended the festival, and the films were all virtually judged. The foreign winners’ awards were presented to the representatives in their embassies.

Alexandra Porshneva from Kazakhstan, Pavel Gumennikovs from Latvia, Pablo Salvador from Sweden, and Chad Chenouga from France were the non-Iranian members of the jury board. Claudia Ruiz from Argentina and Vinod Ganatra from India were the non-Iranian CIFEJ jury members. They all watched and judged the films online.

Pablo Salvador, the Swedish-Chilean member of the international section jury board, said, “Probably the main distinction between a virtual and a physical execution is that we will be able to drink our tea while watching the movies and have the opportunity to breathe differently. We will probably judge the movies more independently from one another, although collaboration among the jury is also fundamental. I think a virtual festival gives us more space to absorb the value of each film and to look for the details more profoundly. The only disadvantage to the international jury is that we won’t have the phenomenal experience of visiting a country like Iran and a city like Isfahan and sharing each other’s company.”

Four coproduction panels with representatives from Armenia, India, Pakistan, and Serbia were successfully held, and the participants were satisfied with the outcomes. The panels came up with ideas for coproduction, yet the projects have been postponed to the post-corona days.

Most of the awards at the Iranian Cinema Competition section were presented to “The Sun”, by Majid Majidi, and “The Wolf Cubs of the Apple Valley” by Fereydoun Najafi. The CIFEJ Special Award was presented to Ralf Kukula and Matthias Bruhn from Germany for “Fritzi”. The Golden Butterfly for the best screenplay was presented to Arvind Sivakumaran and Vijay K. Patel from India for “The Other Side of the River”. The Golden Butterflies for best director and best film were also presented to “The Sun”.

Fourteen child and young adult jury members from Pakistan, Armenia, India, Macedonia, Italy, and Iran judged seven feature films and three animations at the international section of the 33rd ICFF, and they presented their award to “Fritzi” from Germany. The Iranian child and young adult jury members from across Iran presented their Special Award to “The Playful” by Nedereh Torkamani.

This edition of the festival included films about the coronavirus in both the national and international sections, and some films about this issue were screened at the 4th Iranian Youth Filmmaking Olympiad.