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Children's Films -- Generation Winner
by Becky Tan

Children's Films


Crystal Bear for best film to Iveta Grófová for Little Harbour (Piata lod)

Grand Prix of the Generation KPlus International Jury to Chang-Yong Moon and Hin Jeon for Becoming Who I was

Special Prize of the Generation KPlus International Jury to Amar Kaushik for Grandfather

Grand Prix of the Generation 14 Plus International Jury to Yelizaveta Smith and Georg Genoux for School Number 3

Special Prize of the Generation 14 Pus International Jury to Juanita Onzaga for The Jungle Knows You Better Than You do


Becoming Who I Was

Chang-Yong Moon/Jin Jeon, South Korea
(Winner of The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury)

At a young age, Angdu was found to be the reincarnation of a venerated Tibetan monk and given the title of Rinpoche. Normally, he would be surrounded by his disciples and raised in his monastery, but, as he is a displaced Tibetan living in exile in northern India, he instead lives in poverty with his godfather, the local country doctor. We follow Angdu through the years as he must learn how to be Rinpoche while living in obscurity, while waiting for the day that his disciples find him.

Director Chang-Yong Moon and Jin Jeon do an admirable job documenting the young Rinpoche’s life and struggles. While we see the result of China’s policies on the Tibetan religion directly affecting Angdu in his training and life in India, this is not the only opposition the young Rinpoche faces. As he has not been installed in his traditional monastery by his disciples, soon even his local monastery and community begin to doubt the veracity of his claim. Angdu must then not only learn to become the Rinpoche, but also deal with doubts about himself and his place in society.

Angdu’s story is one of the many that tell of the systematic suppression and destruction of a cultural and religious society that has existed for hundreds of years. Becoming Who I Was is a fascinating insight into a way of life that is struggling to survive. (RF)

Little Harbor

(Winner of Generation Crystal Bear)

Ten-year-old Jarka dreams of living a normal life in a house by the sea. Her mother Lucia sees Jarka more like a best friend than a daughter and treats her that way, coming in and out of her life. Abandoned by her mother, Jarka comes across twin babies and decides to set up a life for herself in her late grandmother’s garden in the outskirts of town. Joined by her friend Kristian, who suffers from overbearing rather than neglectful parents, the two take responsibility for the babies and begin to build an imaginary stable life. Soon this becomes untenable and the children fight to keep their dreams alive.

It is not surprising that Little Harbor was the winner of the top prize of the children’s jury – it is a film that touches on dramatic topics, but is filled with enough magic and hope to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming for the average younger viewer. Actors Vanessa Szamuhelová (Jarka) and Matúš Bacišin (Kristian) both play well off each other and their relationship as two children desperate for love, freedom, and stability is moving. The biggest failure of Little Harbor is that by not moving past its whimsical feel, it fails to truly make an impact. (RF)

Freak Show

Trudie Styler, USA

Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) is special and he cultivates this trait by wearing glamorous, feminine clothes which would outshine any transvestite in Hamburg’s Pulverfass (The Berlinale press information says that he is a teenage cross “somewhere in-between David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Freddy Mercury and Oscar Wilde.”) Until now he has lived with his “Muv” (Bette Midler) but she has selfishly gone off to find her own life. He packs up her make-up for future use and moves into a mansion with his father, with whom he has had little contact. This move sends him to a new high school, Ulysses S. Grant Academy, where his weirdness attracts isolation even mobbing and, if that isn’t bad enough: physical attacks. Only one member of the in-group (all football players, naturally) takes pity on him: Flip Kelly (Ian Nelson). Flip visits him, befriends his father, and encourages him to dress in the usual t-shirt and jeans – anything to fit in. Flip’s efforts are well-meant, but foreign to the basic personality of Billy who says, “Blue jeans weren’t going to save me – maybe a ticket to Mars would.” Although Flip (actually his name is Mark) wants to help Billy “adjust” he also recognizes a yearning in himself to turn his back on group expectations of himself, the high school top quarterback, and dreams of being an artist. Billy takes it a step further and runs for Homecoming Queen. His biggest rival is Lynettte (Abigail Breslin) who is confident of winning.

This is based on the 2007 book of the same title by James St. James. In researching St. James, I wonder how much of a story about a teen-age drag queen with divorced parents is based on his own experiences. I sincerely hope that this film comes out mainstream. The costumes are outstanding as is the acting, especially Alex Lawther who is in practically every scene. There is a moral of the story about acceptance, inclusion, and father-son relationships. (BT)

Red Dog True Blue

Kriv Stenders, Australia

This is the second film based on the legendary tale of a red dog that was loyal to his master. The first film had the feeling of a true fable with all the right ingredients. This one starts off with a father not wanting let his kids have a dog and then one night tells the story of dog tales from his childhood. Since he was forced to go live with a craggy old man (his grandfather), he needed a friend in the outback and was lucky enough to find the dog “Blue” after a horrendous storm. The tale includes Aborigines, some black magic, bad weather and a cute tutor and a whole lot of jealousy which puts out bad energy. The film will certainly do well at cinema since the dog is cute, the boy with big blue eyes who rides a motorcycle is cute and there are some mysterious caves with secret talisman and a whole lot of humor. The story is not original and relies a lot on stereotypes to tell the tale.

I still am not sure why this film is here at the Generation. Usually the films bring something to the table where the audience can really think about the meaning of the film. Not this one. Actually that is not entirely true; we do see how people live in Australia. On the other hand, it had nothing to do with animal rights except that they dyed the dog with bio friendly hair color. It didn’t really touch on the issue of racism or integration of the Aborigines. What I didn’t like is the lack of responsibility in taking care of the dog. After the boy leaves for school, the dog goes on a journey looking for him to the point he disappears from sight. Did he die or end up in a shelter, we will never know. After seeing the film The Holders which talked about this topic of misplaced pets and put them into animal shelters because no one wants the responsibility of taking care of the animal, this film leaves much to be desired. Will this man’s family do any better at taking care of a puppy or not? Somehow I have my doubts. (SRS)