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Children at Berlinale - While at the Children's Lounge
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

I ran into Shane Meadows who directed a fantastic film last year called This is England which won many awards. This time he has something completely different: Somers Town, shot in black and white, which is a strong contrast to his colorful film of last year. He actually chose to do it in black and white because Somers Town was too colorful; the graffiti on the walls made it too distracting. In black and white the story line became the focus rather than the environment. This film was financed by the train commission committee which wanted a film on transportation and was also trying to capture Somers Town. They are currently building a train station and Somers Town will change. Thomas Turgoose’s career really has taken off since Meadows discovered him for his previous film This Is England. Here Turgoose plays Tommo a child drifter who arrives at Somers Town and, within a matter of 24 hours, manages to lose everything. He befriends Polish immigrant Merek (Poitri Jagiello). Merek allows Tommo to live with him and his father secretly. All seems to go well until the two young boys fall for the same girl who suddenly leaves for Paris. This is a 2 ½-star film which is nowhere close to the brilliance of Shane Meadows’ This is England which was incidentally autobiographical and perhaps closer to his heart.

Birgit and I also met two Pamplona International Film Festival coordinators Inaki Sarasola and Javier Gutierrez from Spain who are desperately looking at the children’s films in order to come up with a children’s program at their film festival. They said there isn’t any film festival there for children and no good television programs for children. They also said that when they were young there were educational programs but somehow the industry has gone in the wrong direction and they would like to change it. They were just on that mission, in search of good children’s films to bring back to Spain in order to develop a children’s program.