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Michel Children’s FilmFest Films
by the KinoCritics

Hey Hey it’s Esther Blueburger (Hey Hey Hier Esther Blueburger) ***1/2
Cathy Randall, Austria

Being 13 is not easy, particularly if you just want to be your own person. “Outsider” Esther Blueburger (Danielle Cantanzariti), with glasses, braids and the private school’s straw hat plunked on her head, detachedly observes classmates. Sunni (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a “cool” public school girl provokes her aspiration to emulate. Esther daringly invites Sunni to her and twin Jacob’s bas/bar mitzvah. Their ensuing comical escapes include: hoodwinking Esther’s conventional comfortable parents, their schools and students, seizing an alibi raincoat, and burying a duck. Only Mary (Toni Collette), Sunni’s hip mom knows the truth. Fate deals a hard blow, compelling Esther to reach deep inside to ascertain who she really is. A nice coming of age film for the whole family. (Marinell Haegelin, BT***)

Home Run (A No-Hit-No-Run-Summer/Un été sans point ni coup sûr) **
Francis Leclerc, Canada

Based on the book Un été sans point ni coup sûr, this Canadian film is about one summer in the life of a French-Canadian family. It's the year 1969, a time of change. 12-year-old Martin (Pierre-Luc Funk) wants to become a famous baseball player but doesn't make the neighbourhood team. To Martin's surprise, his father (Patrice Robitaille), who normally doesn't show much interest in his son, takes the initiative and organizes a B-team. The kids work hard and have a lot of fun, although Martin's father isn't an ideal coach. Martin even gets the chance to try out for the A-team once more, but he's under a lot of stress and makes a stupid mistake. It's the summer of  Woodstock and the moon landing, but for Martin it will always be the summer, when he and his dad finally grew closer. 

Imagine watching a film in French (audible), with English subtitles and a German voice-over. The German voice-over isn't edited - the speaker makes mistakes, corrects himself and continues. On top it all, you notice translation mistakes. Imagine watching a movie by a director who probably thought it was cool to make a part of his film look like a family home movie from '69 and used too much super 8 material. (Hint: There must be a reason why not many family home movies from that time made it to the big screen!)

Maybe it's due to my diminished viewing pleasure that this film left me under impressed. One positive thing: Some kids in the audience seemed to like it. (Christa Greiff)

Kleine Pate, Der (Little Greek Godfather) ****
Olga Malea, Greece

Alex (Antonis Kafetzopoulos) appears to be a typical eleven year old, raised in America, loves basketball and the outdoors, when from one moment to the next his family’s grown-up expectations change his life. Goodbye childhood, hello to the political world of Greece. Being sent to Crete alone to accept the responsibility of Godfather at a baptism should already be a big step, but Alex must also fill the shoes of his father's political ambitions by winning over the island community’s votes in the next election. If only politics could be reduced to eating delicious food to excess until your belly hurts and making promises to everyone in sight, then anyone could be a successful  in politician.  Alex seems to be succeeding in his task until a half-eaten snail flies across the room, lands on the shoe of the host which greatly offends him.  This hilarious tale dives into Greek culture with the same humor as My Big Fat Greek Wedding but has a realistic edge to it since the film is based on an autobiographical short story from Nikos Papandreou, son of a former Greek Prime Minister. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

Schmetterlinge ***
Kjell-Ǻke Andersson, Sweden/Finland

Recipient of the first annual children’s television channel Jetix-Movie-Award at the FilmFest Hamburg, Schmetterlinge is about a colorful five-year-old, Sara who can will herself to fly – which causes confusion with the authorities. Her mother, worried that Sara must be safe, puts her in the hands of a comical pair of greedy doctors who want to institutionalize her for their experiments and eventual fame. Suspicious of the doctors, Sara outsmarts them and cheers up a sick little boy. Fun to watch. Will this Swedish film inspire children to “fly” off roof tops? Don’t you have friends who survived a strong identification with Batman? (Nancy Tilitz)

The Seven of Daran, The Battle of Pareo Rock ***
Lourens Blok, Holland/South Africa

Director Lourens Blok struck it rich. Directly out of film school, he was handed a multimillion dollar production from producers Ralf Visser and Felice Bakker who had a dream to make the myth of Daran.  The myth is that there are seven sacred animals that watch over each continent, if things get out of balance they must contact a person who is directly linked to the problem and solve it.  In this case  Jimmy’s (Johann Harmse) mother (Caroline Goodall) wants to buy sacred burial ground for her company's new resort thus causing two native tribes to fight over the land.  Blok said it was a wonderful learning experience to make this film in South Africa.  First, children are only allowed to work four hours after which they must return to school or have a break which, of course, slowed production down. The child stunt actors had several challenges which were not easily managed such as crossing the desert and jumping off a rock cliff into the water. Secondly, the African tribes people did not speak English and he had to use a lot of hand signals and charades to get them to do what he wanted.  Blok decided to use an animated speaking giraffe since working with live animals is difficult. There are two comic figures which try to keep the story light; they are not very funny but the audience seemed to like them. There is a good chance that this adventure/heroic film will make it to the mainstream so don't let your kids miss diving into the African continent.  With seven as a lucky number, we could possibly be seeing more of Lourens Blok in the future, saving the other six  continents with other mythical creatures. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)