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Michel Kinder und Jugend Filmfest Hamburg
by Becky Tan

This children’s festival showed eight films, September 27-October 5, for the 17th time, parallel to the Filmfest Hamburg. Eight young people were members of the jury to choose the best of seven films, which were in competition for a prize. Fourteen boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16 worked as moderators, introducing participants as well as introducing and discussing films, all of which were shown in the original language.A speaker sat before a microphone and simultaneously voiced over each sentence of the foreign language in German. Perhaps regular subtitles were considered too challenging for young children, although three films (for older children) had German subtitles and no voiceover. Besides films, children were active in the Michel Environmental Day, gave reports on TIDE radio, wrote film plots, learned about subtitles, and much more. Winner of the prize for best children’s film was PSYCHOBITCH which was obviously for older youngsters.

Sometimes it’s interesting to try to understand the reasoning behind putting one film into the childrens’ category and another into the regular Filmfest Hamburg category. The winning film, PSYCHOBITCH also showed in the regular festival, where it also won a prize. 100 KILO STERNE could have played in the Filmfest Hamburg and, vice versa, PARTICLES, about 17-year-olds, could have played in the Michel Festival.

LAUF EMU LAUF (Emu Runner) ****

Imogen Thomas, Australia

Gem is nine-years-old and lives in a remote area of Australia with her aborigine family. Sadly, she must cope with the death of her mother. She befriends a bird, called an emu, which also seems alone and solitary. Gem begins stealing food for the emu, which becomes so tame that it eats out of her hand. This life is more consoling that her life at home with father, older brother and sister, grandmother and aunt. She spends more time with the bird, skipping school, which calls the attention of Heidi from the social services, who recommends that she participate in sports. This leads to a contest in running, something she has practiced diligently with the emu. This is a slow, quiet film with little background music. The emu is a native bird of Australia, the second largest bird in the world; it cannot fly. This is director Imogen Thomas’ first feature film and the festival served as the film’s German premiere. (BT)


Geneviéve Dulude-de-Celles, Canada,

Mylia (Émilie Bierre) enters a new high school in Quebec where she finds it difficult to adjust. She is close to her younger sister Camille (Irlande Câté), who is having her own problems in her school. Slowly Mylia is befriended by Jacinthe (Cassandra Gosselin Pelletier), who needs help with her homework. She takes Mylia to parties and is basically an unfortunate influence. Through Camille she meets Jimmy (Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie), who lives on a nearby reservation of the Abenaki Indian tribe. A much better influence, he helps her when she drinks too much at a party, he invites her to jump on his trampoline, and they learn to ride bicycles together. There is the typical school bullying, a Halloween Party with Mylia and her friends dressed as members of Fifth Harmony (an American Girl Group Band), and Camille’s birthday party celebrated without Mylia. Then the parents announce their upcoming divorce and the sisters must start anew. This is another slow, quiet film with little background music It was the first feature film of director Geneviéve Dulude-de-Celles, and also played at the Berlinale 2019. In the Q & A, Dulude-de-Celles said that she wanted to make a film about growing up: namely, whether to follow the group or become independent. It took six months to find the appropriate actors (a first film for Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie Irlande Côté) and two months for filming. I was especially impressed with Côté, as well as the fact that both sisters, teenagers, were equally important in the development of the story. (BT)


Marie-Sophie Chambon, France

Sixteen-year-old Lois (Laure Duchene) dreams of flying into space. Why not? She is smart and dreams like all teenagers. But there is a problem. Lois weights 100 kilograms which is unhealthy and would she even fit into a rocket? She decides to stop eating, which results in a collapse at school and a trip to the hospital. Luckily, she is not alone with her worries; there are her friends: Amélie, Stannah and Justine. Together they jump into a car and set off for Toulouse where there is a competition, which might lead to their goals, but first there is a detour into a cave. (BT)