Nepali film wins Unicef award

The Nepali film A Scarecrow has won the UNICEF Iris 75 award at the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival 2021 (UIFF) in Florence for its portrayal of what it means to be a girl child in Nepal today.

An international jury selected A Scarecrow written and directed by self-taught Nepali filmmaker, Rajesh Prasad Khatri, for the top award. Khatri, who is also a schoolteacher, is said to accurately depict the cultural barriers that often prevent young girls from gaining an education. 

"Being a teacher in the remotest village, I have had the privilege to interact with a group of innocent kids where I always learn to feel the stories of each students' cold homes, broken dreams, and their tears along with my experience.” Khatri said. “Most of all, these are the stories of truth which I am hoping to advocate for their rights and share their stories to the world through the medium of cinema.”

The Florence festival is organised by UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti, and celebrates films about children. This year’s festival was held 21-24 October and  featured 38 films from 29 countries. 

The Iris Award recognises excellence in filmmaking about children to encourage exploration of childhood all over the world as a cinematic theme. This year, a total of 1,700 films were submitted for consideration from 114 countries.

The honor for the best overall film at UIFF is the UNICEF 75 Iris, created to mark UNICEF’s 75thanniversary, now being celebrated around the world. 

The jury selected A Scarecrow because of its rich visual symbolism and its crucial message to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Set in a Himalayan mountain community in Nepal, the film tells the story of a young girl taken out of school to help her mother earn a living making scarecrows. 

Rajesh Prasad Khatri, the director of 'A Scarecrow,' that won the Iris Award at the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival 2021.

The award for Best Film Under 18 Iris was made by a group of children in the slums of Nairobi, and tells the story of determination and creativity to play the game they love. The jury commended the artistry of the young amateur filmmakers as well as its message: young people will not allow their circumstances to hinder them. 

In the category Best Film, Childhood and Pandemic the winner was the short documentary, Antara about the Covid-19 lockdown as seen through the eyes of a young girl in Bangladesh. 

The Best Film in the non-fiction open category went to Being Someone Else that follows a 13-year-old as she prepares for Comic Con and reflects on the impacts of her disability. The jury noted this intimate portrayal’s fresh perspective on understanding children with autism. 

The Best Film in the fiction category went to The Name of the Son that follows a 13-year-old trans boy on vacation with his father and younger sister, where the new closeness puts their relationship to the test. 

All films from UIFF will be available to stream online for free until 29 October via