UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival tells stories of childhood from around the world

UNICEF/Santosh Ram
A production still from Prashna, a short drama from India which has been selected for competition in the 2nd edition of the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival in Florence, Italy

The UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival (UIFF) announced today the final selection of films for this year’s showing centred on the dynamic forces shaping children’s lives. The annual festival, which showcases quality cinema narratives of childhood from all parts of the world will be held in Florence from 21 to 24 October 2021.

The festival will feature 38 films from 29 countries, selected from nearly 1,700 entries from 114 countries. The films highlight mental health, learning in lockdown, child poverty, the right to play, children in armed conflict, and more. The average age of directors of selected films is 28.

“The festival is an important showcase of films from diverse contexts that reflect the dynamic lives of children,” said Gunilla Olsson, Director of UNICEF Innocenti. “The films transport us across the globe through the eyes of the world’s children, making us laugh, cry, and reflect in the way we think about the challenges they face every day.”

Supporting UIFF this year is breakout UK film and television actor and UNICEF Supporter Amita Suman, a native of Nepal, whose role in the Netflix hit Shadow and Bone has attracted international attention.

Amita Suman said: “I am so proud to work with UNICEF to help more young girls living in poverty overcome the barriers they face in getting an education. “I am also very excited to take part in the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival and help promote its focus on narratives of childhood from all parts of the world.”

Nine screening sessions have been organized in all with six of them live in Cinema La Compagnia, Florence, Italy, and three sessions streamed on mymovies.it/ondemand/uiff/. Access to all screenings, in the theatre or online, is free of charge. Several side events will also take place, including a special programme for schools on child rights and a panel discussion working ethically with children in documentaries. Following six of the screening programmes, filmmakers and UNICEF specialists will engage in public dialogue and answer questions from the public.

The UIFF Iris Awards, chosen by an independent international jury, will be announced on the last day of the festival, 24 October. The Iris will be awarded to films in ‘Childhood in the Pandemic’ and ‘Open’ categories as well as for ‘Under 18’ directors. Members of the UIFF jury come from Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.

UIFF 2021 is a milestone moment commemorating UNICEF’s global 75th anniversary. The festival’s grand prize, UNICEF 75 Iris, is named after the anniversary and will be awarded to the best overall film. The UNICEF 75 Iris will be announced by UNICEF Supporter Amita Suman.

The festival’s online platform will host a historical retrospective presentation examining iconic global film narratives of childhood over the eight decades that UNICEF has been in existence, protecting children from conflict, disease and exclusion.

UIFF is being organized with the support of the Tuscan Film Commission and Cinema La Compagnia. The festival is being made possible through a generous grant from the Development Cooperation Office of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the patronage of the Tuscan Region and the Municipality of Florence. The UIFF Iris award statue and has been designed for the festival through a partnership with the European Design Institute of Florence.