Bulbul becomes hotspot for children’s film in India

If you thought you already had enough reasons to visit the Indian province of Goa (whether to rave, sunbath or admire the countryside), you can add one more reason to your list: the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival in Margao celebrated its first edition in January.



The festival has several trump cards up its sleeve: a solid international competition, a colourful and enthusiastic audience and no fewer than two organisers: Siddhesh Naik and Bipin Khedekar, both associated with the local Antarang production company. Siddhesh Naik: “In a region that is particularly popular with domestic and foreign tourists, local children are too often left empty-handed. We want to fill this gap with a film festival. The international competition was curated by Monica Wahi, but side programmes also focus on new Indian titles for young audiences. We invite kids to actively participate. Additional events are organised every day in the park around the festival location: fashion shows, dance battles, and all kinds of cinema-related activities.

It is clear that the festival is supported by local authorities: a striking number of politicians took the stage, inciting the audience with combative speeches. The festival also offers an insight into India’s national production for children, with fascinating films like MOMO IN DUBAI (by Marita Mayer), in which a country boy visits his father, a migrant worker in the urban jungle of Dubai.



In the first edition, awards went to SEA SPARKLE (by Domien Huyghe, Belgium – Best Actor & Best Director) and TITINA (by Kajsa Naess, Norway – Best Screenplay). But the true festival revelation was IF ONLY I COULD HIBERNATE (by Zoljargal Purevdash, Mongolia/France), winning the Best Film award: “A beautifully layered, complex exploration of life in an unforgiving world. Under extreme pressure the young protagonist and his siblings are propelled into a search for agency, truth and survival. All cinematic tools were used in a masterful, generous, clear-eyed, aesthetically sophisticated and compassionate way,” stated Feature Film Jury members Yuriy Feting (director CELESTIAL CAMEL, Russia), Bina Paul & Rajan Khosa (India), Philippa Campbell (New Zealand) and Gert Hermans (Belgium).