Child protagonists

A glimpse into the different realities in which children live around the world.

Theeb (2014)
Naji Abu Nowar
Jordan
100′
In the Ottoman province of Hijaz during World War I, a young Bedouin boy experiences a greatly hastened coming of age as he embarks on a perilous desert journey to guide a British officer to his secret destination. In 1916, in the Hejaz Province of the Ottoman Empire, the young Bedouin Theeb (Jacir Eid) is learning from his elder brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh) the skills for everyday survival in their harsh environment. Immersed in a way of life that has endured for centuries, the brothers are unaware of the tremendous upheavals taking place at the fringes of their world: the First World War is raging in Europe, the Ottoman Empire is coming undone, the Great Arab Revolt is brewing, and the British officer T.E. Lawrence is plotting with the Arab Prince Faisal to establish an Arab kingdom. When British officer Edward (Jack Fox) and his Bedouin guide Marji (Marji Audeh) stumble wayward into their tribe's camp, the two brothers' destiny is forever changed. Abiding by the Bedouin custom that guests cannot be refused aid, Hussein is assigned to accompany the two strangers to their destination - with the uninvited Theeb, eager for adventure, following close behind. The ensuing journey, filled with danger and hardship, will result in Theeb's greatly hastened maturation in a culture where a man's honour and righteousness determines his inclusion or expulsion from the community.
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Bal - honey (2010)
Semih Kaplanoglu
Turkey
100′
Six-year-old Yusuf has just begun attending primary school where he is learning how to read and write. His father, Yakup, is a beekeeper. He goes about his trade deep inside the woods where he hangs up his bee hives in the treetops of the highest trees. The mountain forest is a place of deep mystery to Yusuf and he derives great pleasure from accompanying his father there. One morning Yusuf tells his father about a dream he had the night before. Yakup turns on him curtly telling him never to share his dreams with others. The same day, Yusuf is asked to read out a text in front of the class. He suddenly begins to stutter and he is laughed at by the rest of the class. One day the bees suddenly disappear, throwing into question the family’s means of earning a living. Yakup decides to set off for the remote mountains. But no sooner has he left, than Yusuf stops speaking. His mother Zehra, who works on a tea plantation, suffers a great deal on ac count of her son’s sudden loss of speech, but is unable to persuade him to speak. The days pass - and still Yakup does not return. Mother and son begin to worry. Yusuf goes to his grandmother’s place in a neighbouring village where he spends the magical night during which the prophet’s arrival is celebrated. When he hears the story of the prophet he is convinced that his father, with whom he identifies the holy man, will come home again. Yusuf and his mother set off on a fruitless search for signs of his father’s whereabouts after which Yusuf decides to continue the search for his father on his own. His is a journey into the unknown. Will the dream he had be - come reality?
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Anina (2013)
Alfredo Soderguit
Uruguay
79′
Anina Yatay Salas is a pensive redhead who really does not like her name. Each part is a palindrome, which means it reads the same both forwards and backwards. Her schoolmates are always teasing her about this, especially Anina’s arch-enemy Yisel. When these two get into a playground fight one day they are sent to the school head who disciplines them with a nerve-racking punishment: they are both given a sealed black envelope which they are not allowed to open for an entire week. Haunted by nightmares, the days drag by endlessly for Anina. She and her inquisitive best friend try to devise all sorts of ways to discover what is inside the envelope. Gradually, Anina begins to realise that not only does Yisel share her fate: she also has much bigger problems to contend with than Anina. Tentatively, the two rivals begin to get to know each other. Narrated by the voice of the young protagonist, the film is able to follow Anina’s thought processes and provide an insight into her emotional world. Anina’s day-dreams are not always about her troubles and woes - they also reflect her awakening feelings of love.
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Supa Modo (2018)
Likarion Wainaina
Kenya
74′
Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a Superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill.
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Landscape In The Mist - Topio stin omichli (1988)
Theo Angelopoulos
Greece
120′
LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST is a film about the void. It is a film about despair, about the failure of contemporary society. The prodigal father who figures in almost every Angelopoulos film here has evaporated into his mythical essence - leaving his children to become the wanderers in search of him. In the «chaos», two children appear, little Alexandros and his older sister Voula. In order to exorcise their loneliness, they invent a secret universe for themselves, inhabited by their dreams. Every night they go to a train station to watch the departure of a train to Germany, where they have been deceived by their mother (herself an off-screen presence) into believing that their absent father is living. One night they finally dare to get on the train. But their voyage turns out to be hazardous and pointless and disappointing. They confront suffering, physical and moral illness, jealousy, evil and death, if also love - as many ordeals and rites as initiations. Evading the half-hearted pursuit of the police and uncaring relatives, sneak onto trains, hitchhike in vans and lorries, and suffering poverty, rape and exploitation, take a dangerous leap of faith, an eerie plunge into liberation and danger. The familiar Greek landscape - the cafes, the depopulated towns and deserted beaches - are played for a strangely harsh fairytale quality, seen through the eyes of two children whose introduction to the real world borders on the surreal. The film is filled with extraordinary, unforgettable moments that are at once real and hallucinatory and contains intriguing references to other Angelopoulos' films. The children even encounter the Travelling Players now, thirteen years later, without a stage to act on, their costumes put up for sale. At the end Alexandros tells Voula the same story from Genesis that she told him at the start: «In the beginning there was chaos.» The children do finally reach the border, but of course there is no border with Germany and perhaps the river they cross is actually the Styx and perhaps their whole journey was a search for order in a chaotic world.
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Wolf And Sheep (2016)
Shahrbanoo Sadat
Afghanistan
86′
In rural Afghanistan, people believe in the stories they invent to tell each other, explaining the mysteries of the world, they don’t understand. Shepherd children own the mountains. Even though there are no grown ups around, they know the rules very well; the main one is that boys and girls are not allowed to be together, they have to be separated. The boys practice with their slings to fight the wolves should they attack the flock. The girls smoke dried branches of wheat secretly and play wedding, dreaming of getting a husband soon. They gossip about every one and everything, but mostly about Sediqa, 11, an outsider among the shepherd children. They think she is cursed, as an evil ghost disguised as a snake bewitched her grandmother. Sediqa picks up her sheep and goats every morning and drops them in the owner’s house every evening. She dreams of having a sling and learn to swing it like the boys and hit a wolf. Qodrat, 11, becomes the gossip topic of everyone after his mother remarries with an old man with two wives. He prefers to be alone in the most isolated parts of the mountains. This is where he meets Sediqa and they become friends until Qodrat’s mother has to send him away.
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The Other Bank (2010)
George Ovashvili
Georgia
90′
Twelve-year-old Tedo lives with his young mother in Keto in an isolated hut on the outskirts of Tiflis. Tedo and Keto are refugees from Abchasia. The civil war has claimed everything they ever owned, including Tedo’s and Keto’s hopes for a bright future as an intact family unit. Tedo was just four years of age when they were obliged to flee from Abchasia. At the time, they had to leave behind Tedo’s father - his weak heart made it impossible for him to take on such a strenuous journey. Tedo is now an apprentice at a car repair shop and Keto is working as a sales assistant. Tedo gives the few pennies that he earns to his mother so that she no longer has to be nice to strange, unfriendly men. It pains the young boy agreat deal that he cannot earn more of a living for them; moreover, his mother’s moral conduct begins to weigh heavily on him. One day, when he discovers that she has a lover it becomes all too much for him and he decides to return to his father in Abchasia. Perhaps he will find the solution to all his problems there. Tedo meets many people on his journey - and suffers many a blow. He is by no means welcome everywhere. As his journey comes to an end he has acquired many an insight - such as the realisation that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.
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Refugiado (2014)
Diego Lerman
Argentina
93′
Matias and his mother Laura, find themselves forced to hurriedly abandon the house they live in to escape another outburst of violence from Fabian. Matias is 8 and Laura is newly pregnant. Thus they begin a wandering journey in search of a place they can feel safe and protected. They embark on an unusual road-movie of everyday life, a drama shot through with great humanity.
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