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Ankara  Kids Film Festival

13 November 2013 - The Philippine Embassy in Ankara led by Charge d’ Affaires, a.i. Leilani S. Feliciano participated and lent moral support to the holding of the Second Universal Kids Film Festival (2nd Evrensel Cocuk Film Festivali, UKFF) in Istanbul during its Opening Gala on November 01 at the Tuzla Cultural Center on the Asian side of Istanbul, and during the Philippine Gala on November 03 at the Church of the Holy Spirit Function Hall in Harbiye on the European side of Istanbul, respectively.

The Festival is an international annual non-competitive film event. It provides children the opportunity to understand different cultures from around the world and enhance international communication and cooperation for children’s films as well as promote worldwide development of children’s cinema. This is done by screenings of a selection of feature length and short films, such as the UNICEF Top 10 Cartoons on Children’s Rights, the winning films from the Plural Plus Contest of the United Nations Alliance on Civilizations (UNAoC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), selected children’s films from Norway, Australia, Iran, the Netherlands, Japan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, and a special section on films for Children with Special Needs from the Philippines.

The festival’s main feature is “Mi Ultimo Adios” from the Philippines, a short-film and the first-ever Filipino Sign Language with English subtitles, of Dr. Jose Rizal’s last poem written before he was executed in Bagumbayan in 1896. The film was made by independent and advocacy filmmaker Mirana Medina who is a University of the Philippines (UP) Film Center scholar to the Film and Television Institute of India where she obtained a post-graduate Diploma in Cinema. She has produced and directed educational films on special children and persons with disability that advocate for their rights and inclusion in society. Among her films featured in the festival include “Mi Ultimo Adios”, “Silent Odyssey” (first feature-length documentary on Deaf Filipino culture, history and language) and “Kids Three 21” (her latest film that focuses on Down Syndrome in the Philippines).   

Following the success of last year’s First Universal Kids Film Festival, the Second Universal Kids Film Festival is organized by renowned Istanbul-based Filipina Painter Mrs. Rowena Ulayan-Tuzcuoglu, Festival Directress, Children’s Film & Art Association (CFAA) & President of the International Filipino Friendship Society (IFFS) and Mrs. Sevin Kakalicoglu. It ran from November 01 to 08 in Istanbul.

The successful gala opening of the 2nd Universal Kids Film Festival kicked off at 6:20pm on 01 November at the  Tuzla Cultural Cente with a cocktail reception and participation of some 250 guests from the Philippine Embassy in Ankara, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Istanbul Consular Corps, representatives of UN agencies like UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration-Ankara, officials from Istanbul’s Tuzla Municipal Government which provided the venue for the filmfest, Turkey’s academe and media, officials of the IFA and CFAA led by Mrs. Tuzcuoglu, Mrs. Kakalicoglu, Turkish pupils from Istanbul schools and Istanbul Filipino community members.

The program featured an opening speech delivered by Festival Directress Mrs. Rowena Ulayan-Tuzcuoglu conveying her appreciation to the Philippine Embassy, the Tuzla Municipal Government, the IFFS and CFAA organizers, and acknowledging the support of UNICEF, IOM-Ankara, concerned Embassies that supported the event and Filipino and Turkish guests who have supported the event. CDA Feliciano graced the occasion to provide moral support for Mrs. Tuzcuoglu. Earlier in the day during the morning and early afternoon screenings for children, around 600 Turkish pupils and Filipino children watched the films featured for the filmfest in Tuzla. Mrs. Tuzcuoglu stated that the filmfest is an offering for the children in Turkey and the Philippines so that they may learn the values of friendship, mutual understanding and tolerance, the foundations of building a peace-loving society.

Dr. Meera Sethi, Chief of Mission of IOM-Ankara, also graced the occasion and delivered a speech where she praised Mrs. Tuzcuoglu’s efforts in promoting core values of mutual understanding and tolerance through screening of beautiful films from around the world for the young.  After the speeches, the audience watched UNICEF’s cartoons, Plural Plus videos from UNAoC, Filipino short-film “Mi Ultimo Adios”, Turkish short film “Ekmek” and “Rafiki,” a full-length feature film from Norway. 

The Philippine Gala was held on November 03 at the Church of the Holy Spirit Function Hall in Harbiye, Istanbul. After the celebration of the Holy Mass, CDA Feliciano delivered a welcome speech where she recognized the efforts of Mrs. Tuzcuoglu and festival organizers in promoting Philippine culture in Turkey. She also lauded the UKFF’s objective of teaching the values of friendship, mutual understanding the tolerance through showcasing of beautiful films as well as Mrs. Tuzcuoglu’s efforts in promoting a sense of nationalism among Filipinos in Turkey by featuring award-winning Filipino films.

Around 150 officers and members of the Istanbul Filipino Community organization, other Istanbul-based organizations, Church of the Holy Spirit Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Andres Calleja, S.D.B. and Turkish schoolchildren, and Turkish guests were present during the event. Mrs. Tuzcuoglu again delivered a welcome speech thanking the said organizations, festival organizers and the Istanbul Filipino community organization, introduced Filipina filmmaker Mirana Medina and the Filipino film to be viewed, “Mi Ultimo Adios” and “Kids Three 21.”

The weeklong 2nd Universal Kids Film festival and exhibition of exceptional foreign children’s films is scheduled to run from November 01 to 08 and will be open to the general public in Istanbul in the following theatrical and cultural centers, namely the Tuzla Nikah Sarayi Cultural Center, Orhanli Kultur Mezi and Sifa Genclik Merkezi. Aside from films mentioned above which will be featured weeklong, the following countries, through their Embassies in Ankara and Istanbul, submitted their films to Mrs. Tuzcuoglu for exhibition in the 2nd UKFF such as Iran’s “Sound of My Feet” and “Time to Love”, Australia’s “Santa Clause Apprentice,” Japan’s “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away”, Netherlands’ “Sounds for Mazin,” and Azerbaijan’s “Buta”. END