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American Women's Club of Hamburg

The Michel Filmfest - Children's Films Overcome Obstacles

by Shelly S.

It is hard to imagine that a film about children could be difficult to make. The first problem concerns the hours a child is allowed to work on the set as well as how long it may be absent from school. Children do get to miss school, but they have to make it up in the end.   Small children are allowed only six hours on set, while for older children it’s eight hours. The film characters seem to be having fun, but it is actually a lot of work and patience is needed which isn’t easy for kids.

In the Dutch film Kauwboy, Director Boudewijn Koole’s biggest challenge was to find the bird which played a major role. The story is based on an abandoned baby Jackdaw which he himself had found as a young boy. Once quite common in Holland, these birds have long since vanished. In the end he had to raise six of these birds which were imported as babies from the Czech Republic. He also had to assure the audience that no harm came to these birds since something terrible happens in the film. This is not only a children’s film but, due to its subject matter, is suitable for adults as well. It has won several awards and will bring tears to your eyes.  

In Clara and the Secrets of the Bears, Director Tobias Ineichen had to find two bears to fit into the story. He said, when writing the script, he did think about how hard it would be to find a six-month-old bear to be on the set when they needed it. They did find them in some other countries and even had several trainers there to help deal with any problems that would come up. The worst problem was that they actually had to film during hunting season in Switzerland.

This entailed finding locations far away from other people and, as you can guess, that meant climbing into the high country. Ricarda Zimmerer, who played Clara, said that it was difficult to walk so far and then have to perform, but she enjoyed working with the little bear. She also missed time at school but had to make it up. This film was also not a typical children’s film since there was a mystical quality to it which many young kids didn’t quite comprehend.

In the Iranian film The Rooster Trademark Paper, Director Maryam Milani explained that the hardest thing about getting a film made in Iran is obtaining approval.   She luckily chose a subject which shows gifted children, who were driven to do manual labor in order to help pay for their studies. The title is actually a type of artistic paper from Germany, which is very expensive; one of the characters needs this paper in order to enter a competition. It is hard for us to imagine what is must be like to have work censored or even to be thrown into jail because of a work of art. I admire the artists who try to work around these constraints.

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