Dvd let­ter­box

This week

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

GENEVIEVE Bai­ley’s first day on the job at a Melbourne news­pa­per was trau­matic. The then 23-year-old was con­fronted with sear­ing im­ages from the Boxing Day tsunami that rav­aged In­done­sia.

A year later, and af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some of her own trau­mas, a de­pressed Bai­ley trav­elled over­seas for the first time with the mis­sion to film some­thing in ev­ery coun­try she vis­ited. She ‘‘wanted to make some­thing en­er­getic, op­ti­mistic, univer­sal and real’’, she notes in the in­tro­duc­tion to her film I Am Eleven.

She re­called the hap­pi­est time of her life, when she was 11, and hoped it would be en­er­gis­ing to record 11-year-olds across the world and see if it was a happy junc­ture in their lives, too, while also record­ing what chal­lenges they faced or hopes they held. Bai­ley has cre­ated a very en­er­getic, op­ti­mistic and univer­sal film, re­leased this week on DVD (G, Mother Pic­tures, 94min, $29.95). And the story be­hind her dogged pur­suit of a the­atri­cal re­lease for the film and its sub­se­quent au­di­ence ap­peal in cinemas and on­line is just as in­spir­ing.

The film’s premise is not ex­actly novel. The Melbourne film­maker in­ter­viewed chil­dren, as has been done in ev­ery for­mat from Michael Apted’s se­ries 7 Up to Can­did Cam­era. Yes, kids say the fun­ni­est things and in this doc­u­men­tary there are plenty of cute ob­ser­va­tions among their opin­ions on bul­ly­ing, re­li­gion, the en­vi­ron­ment and ro­mance, in­clud­ing a par­tic­u­larly sweet ren­di­tion of how one girl imag­ines her mar­riage, straight from a ‘‘Dis­ney princess’’ movie.

The film is not puffery, though; it con­tains some gen­uinely mov­ing rev­e­la­tions and per­spec­tives from a di­verse group of kids.

You may think it a cliche that a French boy, Remi, might be more worldly than oth­ers when he opines ‘‘I am a cit­i­zen of the world’’, but I Am Eleven busts open more cliches than it per­pet­u­ates. If any­thing, the film shows a strik­ing una­nim­ity among Sam the Dutch boy, the English girl in Poland, Oliver in New York City, the Bul­gar­ian boy with the ban­daged eye and the Thai boy who herds and rides ele­phants. Their thoughts and ac­tions are all strik­ingly sim­i­lar.

Th­ese chil­dren are pro­duc­tive, thoughtful, tol­er­ant and pos­i­tive de­spite their vary­ing cir­cum­stances. And they ap­pear far more to­gether than gen­er­a­tions be­fore them.

Bai­ley’s DIY film­mak­ing is very com­pe­tent and the DVD in­cludes a strong suite of spe­cial fea­tures, in­clud­ing a neat Q&A with film­maker Robert Con­nolly (in which Bai­ley out­lines the ob­vi­ous dif­fi­culty in trav­el­ling the world, ask­ing to meet 11-year-old kids) and catch-ups with four of the par­tic­i­pants. Bai­ley’s web­site iameleven.com is a suc­cess­ful, on­go­ing pro­ject that is also worth a look.

Of course, this is only a qual­i­ta­tive sam­ple of a gen­er­a­tion. Who can say whether they rep­re­sent any­one other than them­selves? But I Am Eleven pro­vides a warm vi­sion of the fu­ture. (M) Fox (98min, $29.99)

(MA15+) Road­show (113min, $39.95)

(MA15+) Univer­salSony (134min, $29.99)

(MA15+) ITV (260min, $39.95)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.