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The 10th Abloom Film Festival -
International Conference

The International Day of the Abloom Film Festival 2021 was held 22. November at Filmens hus in Oslo, after the successful and jubilant kick-off on Sunday. This year’s theme was well elaborated with focus on Japan. It was a unique collaboration between the Japanese embassy in Norway with Abloom Film Festival. The conference was graced with the presence of the ambassadors to Norway from Japan, Turkey and Egypt, Delegates, Representatives from organizations such as Beitostølen, ECFA (European Children’s and Youth Film Association), NTNU and more. There was an international atmosphere with several attendants from various backgrounds and meeting at a common ground for a similar purpose; to manifest the festivals theme this year that “Disability is a blessing, not a divine punishment!”

To start off the event, the guests had a short session to mingle and enjoy refreshments such as green tea and the sweet bean cake while slowly being introduced to Japanese publications on different topics. Shortly after, there was a first screening which was a short documentary film from Kenya. The young people found it difficult to understand that people are shared into two categories; able and disabled. The titles of the film was “Stop Ableism”. This was an insightful and powerful start to push forward on this years theme.

The second screening was the Japanese movie “Sweet Bean”. It brought more light to the theme by showing a sad, forgotten part of history; the segregation of lepracy patients. The old lady in the film passes on the recipe of life to the young generation. The recipe is simple; respect and hard work. Most of the viewers had similar opinions that it was an emotional, insightful and unique
story. To wind up the international conference, there was a panel discussion on film diversity that included festival director, Faridah Nabaggala, and Ester Vuojala (also from Abloom), Julie Ova (NFI), Becky Parry (ECFA) and Marjo Kovanen (KOULUKINO). It was a very engaging topic as the panelists aired their points of view and complimented the industry on improving on representation over the years.

Normalizing diversity would be like living in a society where the sun shines on
representation. The viewers should recognize themselves in the films to achieve the
representation and diversity needed for validity in the film industry. There should be a presence of a brave space to exchange ideas, find our voices and that of others as well as strategize on ways forward. To be seen is a fundamental need on screen and so is individual responsibility to be aware of diversity. A great starting point is with children so as to raise awareness of our human diversity. It could be seen in simple adaptations such as different fish characters. This should in turn bring freedom of acceptance and the ability to freely live in the society without prejudice.

The conference was a great meeting point and a scene to look forward to next year so as to create more awareness and exchange vital ideas within a diverse environment united with the same purpose.