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Freedom Film Fest – Films on Children

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Discussion after the screening of the films

As part of the Freedom Film Fest organized by KOMAS, Child Rights Coalition Malaysia screened three films on children at VoC on December 10.  Each film provided insights into children’s lives and reminded us of the crucial role adults play in making a difference in a child’s life by respecting his/her rights.

“My Pink Room” is about the displacement and dispossession of a Syrian family.  It is filmed through the eyes of a young boy who wakes up in his refugee tent to face alien and unfamiliar surroundings.  This experience of loss and estrangement is shown through consciousness narration ending with a note of collective urgency against apathy.

“Breaking the Cage” is about Savary, a girl with Down Syndrome in Cambodia, who is kept in a cage by her parents.  Cambodian society sees Down Syndrome caused by the bad karma of the parents and as being contagious.  With the support of an NGO, Savary starts going to school for a few days in a week and things start to change for her.  This short film is now available on youtube in its entirety and can be accessed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3on2x2f_UE

“Friendship in Diversity” is a film from Indonesia and the life transforming decision 12 year old Salma’s parents make for her by changing her school to a special needs one.  Salma faces the initial challenges of adjusting to the new school, where as a ‘normal’ kid she finds it hard to make friends with her schoolmates who are mentally and physically different from her.   However, in time as she gets to know her friends better and deeper, she creates beautiful and meaningful friendships in diversity.

Discussion after the screening of the films

After the film screening the discussion started with the fact that though none of the films were from Malaysia, same realities exist for children here be they refugees or of special needs.  Most Malaysians don’t know that there are over 100.000 refugees in this country and amongst those who know apathy about their lives and struggles remains.

There is also a long way to go in Malaysia regarding respecting the rights of children with special needs.  The general feeling was that the way forward is to have inclusive education that caters for the specific needs of each child, be they ahead of their peers or lagging behind.  The one size fits all model of education is neither egalitarian nor is it producing good results.

There was also a call for a plan of action after such events in the future so that those who would like to be involved in such issues have some practical tips on how to get involved.

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