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Growing up. Stories from all over the world: a film festival celebrates 30 years of Unicef Innocenti in Florence

FLORENCE, OCTOBER 19 – A new film festival on childhood will take place from 25-27th October 2019 in Florence to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival (UIFF) will present a diverse programme of films that feature narratives of childhood from all over the world. A total of 32 films representing 28 countries—Including features, documentaries, short dramas and animation—will be screened at Cinema La Compagnia, Florence. The festival is a collaboration between the UNICEF Innocenti, Fondazione Sistema Toscana, Cinema La Compagnia, with sponsorship of the Region of Tuscany and the Municipality of Florence and in association with the Istituto degli Innocenti.

UIFF also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of UNICEF’s global research centre in Florence as well as the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Istituto degli Innocenti, where UNICEF is hosted.

The theme of the festival is: Growing up. Stories from all over the world. The aim is to curate the best cinema art narratives of childhood – especially from younger filmmakers – to take stock of the dynamic forces shaping children’s lives and promote reflection on their experiences in different contexts. All UIFF screenings are free of charge and seating will be available on a first come, first served basis.

“Childhood is a universal theme that filmmakers return to, again and again, to connect audiences to memories of our earliest years,” says Priscilla Idele, Director a.i., UNICEF Innocenti. “Children’s experiences are the same the world over and all rights apply to all children everywhere – and that is what we are learning from the films.”

The new film festival has received an enthusiastic reception in film circles. Submissions were received from over 100 countries and a total of 32 films have been designated as “Official Selections” to be screened in the three-day festival. A total of 28 countries are represented in the programme. All films will be shown in the original language with English and Italian sub-titles. Seating for all UIFF screenings and director Q&A sessions will be free of charge at Cinema La Compagnia with seats allocated on a first come first served basis.


“The festival offers the possibility of comparing and reflecting on the conditions and the problems of childhood, which is a fundamental component for every society which aims at an equal and sustainable development. On this basis the Tuscany Region offered its support to UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival,” said Monica Barni, vice president and Councelor for Culture of the Tuscany Region.

The film “Anbessa,” shot in Ethiopia and directed by American Mo Scarpelli, will have its Italian premier at UIFF, having received positive notice at major film festivals around the world including the 2019 Berlinale. South African short drama “The Mattress,” directed by Neo Monyamane, will have its world premier, and several other European and Italian premiers will be included in the festival programme.

“An important festival, which we strongly support, because it deals with the theme of childhood, on which there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Sara Funaro, Councilor for Rights and Equal Opportunities of the Municipality of Florence. “Sensitizing on the importance of children’s rights serves to turn the spotlight on those realities.”

An image from the documentary ‘Anbessa’ about an Ethiopian boy living unfazed by the fact that he and his mother have been displaced from their land to make way for a massive condominium development. Anbessa will have its Italian premiere at UIFF. 

While films have been submitted by directors of all ages, special consideration was given to younger filmmakers. The average age of directors in the “Official Selection” category is 29, with films to screened by filmmakers as young as 15 years old. They include works by filmmakers who have won critical acclaim in international film circles; alongside several exciting new creative works by younger filmmakers.

Each night of the festival a programme of director Q&A sessions will be conducted with moderation by Annalisa Buglioni, journalist with Sky Italia. The keynote speaker at the grand opening of the festival will be Enzo d’Alò, director of animated films. Giovanni Veronesi, screenwriter and director, will be a featured guest at the festival’s closing ceremony.

“Even this beautiful initiative with the international scope of UNICEF Innocenti allows us today to concretely decline beauty and hospitality: the beauty of cinema as an art and culture and an instrument to turn the spotlight on childhood and its needs; the care understood as attention to the protection and promotion of the rights of children which spurs us to face new challenges for the future and to put the humanity of children at the center.” (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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