Mini and the Mozzies (Cykelmyggen Og Minibillen)
Jannik Hastrup, Denmark 2014
A stylized animation captures the look of the 1960s with its wide and colorful palette and cheerful music. Director Jannik Hastrup is no newcomer to the Berlinale scene and has been showing his films for over twenty years. Mimi, a little black beetle, belongs to a flea circus travelling through the countryside and things start going wrong the minute they land in the honey bees’ territory. There are naturally heroes and villains but nothing too aggressive and intense. The audience, which consisted of mostly children between the ages of two to six years old, was bopping up and down just like the insects that were pushing and shoving. The film was definitely a bit Freudian with insects sucking on each other and there was a referenced to “keep your pecker up” and that certainly was up for debate and whether that was deliberate or not, did seem to make any difference to the kids. As an adult I like the colorfulness but it was a bit too slow-paced for my liking but that probably was due to seeing too many Disney animations.
Mathieu Denis, Canada
Based on a true story in the 1960s, Corbo (Anthony Therrien), a rich Italian boy from poor background, takes interest in politics since he can’t handle injustice. After meeting a girl handing out pamphlets, he becomes involved in an underground terrorist group which has collected weapons and is planting bombs in order fight for the independence of the Canadian province of Quebec. He started out with handing out leaflets, then weapons and, at the end, has to make a decision: is he willing to die for his cause. The film is strikingly realistic with a somber undertone. One sees this adolescent who is unable to communicate his feelings to his family, school and friends. The more isolated he becomes, the more he searches for the outsiders who will accept him. It certainly shows us the birth of a fanatic.
Duccio Chiarini, Italy
Edoardo (Matteo Creatini) has a sensitive problem for an adolescent boy. Since childhood, he has suffered with a congenital inability to retract his foreskin; even masturbating is an excruciating experience for him. It probably should have been operated on when he was a child but now as a teenager it is a difficult thing to talk about especially since he is shy and sensitive. Now spring is in the air and the word sex is buzzing in his ears. It’s coming from his best friend, from his parents and even his little sister is talking about it. He tries to have everything under control until his neighborhood crush returns home from school. So what can he do? She clearly has set him on fire and because of his problem the relationship seems to be going in the wrong direction. This hilariously funny film is made with kid gloves. Director Duccio Chiarini has done a wonderful job with the subject, dialog and characterization. I take my hat off to Matteo Creatini who handled this very sensitive subject.
The Generation Shorts
The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul
Kitty Green, Australia
Six girls, all dressed with the same pink sequined dresses, and audition for the part to be the 1994 figure skater, Oksana Baiul, who won the Ukraine’s first gold medal. This film has been made at a crucial time due to all the political upheaval currently. It is a reminder of the past as the girls describe Oksana’s life under the time period of the Soviet Union reign. We are reminded of history which is coincides with the pain of the current situation and desperation of the people living there now. Each girl reveals her dreams and when they last cried and then had to perform a scene of tears. The tears were supposed to be tears of joy due to her win but, in relation to what currently is happening, I only felt tears of sadness. It was very simply styled, short, but with a very powerful meaning for this time period.
Giovanni and the Water Ballet (Giovanni en Het Waterballet)
Astrid Bussink, Nehterlands
Giovanni loves synchronized swimming and is determined to be the first male team member. He even explains a bit of its history by saying that it used to be a male sport as well but somehow went completely the other direction to the point that males are not even allowed to compete on a high level. The film is a sweet documentary seen through the eyes of Giovanni and his girlfriend Kim. It makes you laugh since their conversations seem so adult like when they are talking, but in reality it is clear they are just kids.The film teaches us the lesson on how to do it your way.
Kacey Mottet Klein, Birth of an Actor (Kacey Mottet Klein, Naissance d’un Acteur)
Ursula Meier, Switzerland
How does a child become an actor? Director Ursula Meier explores this theme with her child actor Kacey Mottet Klein whom she has been helping develop into an actor. He talks about his experience working in front of the eye of the camera and the more he acts, the less he knows it is there. From a child’s perspective the camera is like a big black spider with legs and a big eye which is hard to tear away its gaze, now it isn’t even there. It was like a coming-of-age story from the point of view of the development of an actor. Meier extracts sections from her films Home (2008) and L’enfant d’en Haut (2012) to show Klein’s development into a full fledge actor.
Kuma Hina: A Place in the Middle (Dazwischen)
Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, USA
This Hawaiian documentary follows Ho’onani who is an eleven-year-old girl who feels more like a boy most of the time. She is lucky because she attends a traditional Hawaiian school where a third gender is a part of their ancient traditional beliefs. The charismatic Kuma Hina, who is her mentor, is also one of these people who have researched into this gender which has been stamped out by the modern Christian society and has brought it back into being. This third gender was in the middle of the male and the female and was seen as a powerful being and often was the healer of the tribe. The school performed a theater production where Ho’onani was among the boys but was clearly in her new role as the leader in the group. The movie reminded me of Thailand that also has this third accepted gender a girl boy. I don’t know if they historically connected but it would be interesting to research it.
The wanderings of a Fisherman’s son (Si La Mer Se Meut)
Lorris Coulon, France
Sekou and his father are making their ways through the water ways in an antique Mokoro boat searching for fish. Sekou is hungry, but his father is unable to provide food. As the journey progresses, they see crabs and pelicans but no fish. At some point the father explains that the ships from other countries come with bigger boats and are taking all the fish and at the same time he asks the Sekou what he wants to become when he grows up. His answer was no surprise... a pirate. It is devastating to see how greed has broken the slender threads that hold the network together. Maybe through these short films we can elevate our social consciousness.