Esben Toft Jacobsen, Denmark
What do you do if you just walk off the train at Bahnhof Zoo in Berlin and need to go to a film right this minute – no time to waste? You go to a children’s film at Zoo Palast just two minutes from the train station. The cinema was full at 9:30 on a Monday morning. There were whole classes of school kids, as well as some younger ones with their moms, all kids probably 4 to 12 in age. Beyond Beyond, an animated film, tells the story of a little rabbit named Johan. He lives with his father and sends his lost mother messages in a bottle. Johan listens to an emergency radio message and feels obligated to go to the secret land of the Feather King, where he actually finds his mother.
The Zoo Palast has been mightily renovated to look like the new Savoy Cinema in Hamburg, i.e., lots of knee space between the rows and comfortable seats which tip backwards and a beautiful red ceiling. Children are always very appreciative of cinema and these were no exception. They screamed when the lights dimmed and clapped when the gorgeous curtain went up. I sat beside four boys, probably fourth graders. The film was too childish for them, but hey, they had a whole morning off from school, so nobody was complaining. Everyone was a good sport. Afterwards they received official questionnaires where they could rate their impressions and even apply to be a member of the children’s jury in 2015. (BT)
Frans Weisz, Netherlands/Belgium
Finn is a Dutch boy who notices a light in an abandoned farmhouse on his way from school. He investigates and finds that an old man named Luuk has moved in. Luuk tries to give Finn the cold shoulder, but relents and even plays something for him on the violin. Finn is enchanted and asks for violin lessons. Luuk agrees, but it must be a secret. Will Finn become the next David Garrett? Much will occur before even a hint of such a life could evolve. There is the relationship between Finn and his father Frank who wants him to play soccer. There is the mysterious violin in his own home, which might have belonged to his deceased mother. There is an implied connection between Finn’s father and the old man.
Once again the cinema was packed with children and their parents at 10:30 on a Sunday morning. Berliners truly love the Berlinale, no matter the age. Nobody was disappointed at this moving film where the plot unravels at just the right speed to keep you glued to the screen. The actors, Mels van der Hoeven (Finn), Daan Schuurmans (Frank) , Jan Decleir (Luuk) were excellent and the ending uplifting. I certainly hope it eventually comes to Hamburg. (BT)
Crystal Bear winner of best short children’s film, Generation Kplus
Sprout by Ga-eun Yoon, Korea
Short films, Generation Kplus (see photos)
Once again, the cinema was sold out at 10:30 on a Saturday morning, children sitting with their parents, all eager to see five short films. One was about Kalle Kran (by Johan Hagelbäck, Sweden) who sits high up in his tower construction crane with perfect views of life below; he is definitely in a situation to rescue anyone in distress. Then there was Särtulis (by Dace Ridüze Lativa) about a pencil which gets lost from the pack and goes on adventures of his own. Then came Min Vän Lage (Eva Lindström, Sweden) about a little animated owl and Väsa (Jänis Cimmermanis, Latvia) about mice in a museum, also animated.
And, lucky us: we got to see the winning short film, which was not animated: Sprout (Ga-eun Yoon, Korea). Bory is a girl, about four years old. Her extended family is busily preparing dinner and a ceremony to honor the late grandfather. But, help (!) they forgot to buy the bean sprouts. Bory takes the initiative and leaves the house on her own for the market place. She is much too young to be out on her own; this is probably the first time. On the way she has adventures with a granny, other children, a dog, etc. She returns very late. After the film, director Yoon said that the actress who played Bory (Kim Soo-an) is actually six years old. She prepared the film over three months and filmed for six days.