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Children at Berlinale - Generation 14 Plus Is Expanding Beyond Its Horizon
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

This year was an exciting moment for Thomas Hailer who has worked hard these past four years at the Generation 14 Plus program. Geared for teenagers and normally showing at the Zoo Palast theater, it has now been expanded into two theaters, the Babylon and the Coliseum. The Generation K plus which is for younger children is still at the Zoo Palast theater.  I expected small attendance as in the past, especially since the theaters were further away, but I wrong.  Hailer must have been proud that most premieres were full and audiences were buzzing with excitement. Every film in the program seemed to be a hit with the audience and those who came to represent their films were equally entertaining.  Also a nice addition to the program is the informal lounge setting where journalists can meet with the various actors and directors.  It gives us a chance to meet and converse in a manner more compatible than the formal Q & A which is typical of the competition film section.

In the lounge I talked with Thomas Hailer about the DVDs on sale in the Berlinale shops. He said it was his dream to support some of these children’s films by giving them a chance to be viewed at home. The films often have a complicated plot or a unique point of view.  He believes that children are perfectly capable of handling difficult story lines and complicated characters.  It is certainly better for them to be watching something that is challenging than watching violent or stupid rerun cartoons on television.  The following films are on sale the internet or through the Berlin film festival.  Unfortunately, all films are dubbed in German. Even Hailer was apologetic for them not being in English. I purchased the last two films and viewed them with my son. He found them to be interesting and had plenty of questions afterwards which convinced me that Thomas Hailer is right.  So if you are sick of Sponge Bob, buy one of these films for a change:

Hop, Belgium
Shickt mehr susses, Denmark
Der Miskerl, Russia
Nenn mich einfach, Axel, Germany
Ikingut, Iceland  and A collection of short films, different countries