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Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: I am Eleven

We finally had the chance to see I am Eleven, a documentary movie that interviews kids in 15 countries (all age 11) about various aspects of their lives, and gives you a glimpse into how they live and think. Given that my youngest is 11, it was fun for him to see what their peers were like in other places.

My husband didn't love the movie, saying it didn't really have a plot. And that was true. When you are interviewing kids in 15 countries who mostly aren't associated with each other, what kind of plot artifice should you use? The director organized it by theme, having the kids talk about issues like bullying, their family, crushes, hobbies, war, social pressures, animals and their future. In this way, kids can see the universality of experience, like that there are bullies in every country. While it may look or sound different, people in every country sing and dance - you can see the differences and similarities.

I found it interesting to see how many of the kids interviewed were transplants in that country. I'm not sure if that was intentional on the director's part, but she interviewed a Caucasian boy living in Thailand, an Iraqi boy living in Sweden, a British girl living in the Czech Republic. She interviewed kids with different family situations, like kids who live in an orphanage, and a girl who lives only with her father. It was nice to see a boy in France putting down racism, especially given all the problems the country has had in recent years with anti-semitism.

It was interesting for us to see a bit about life in other countries, including the Thai boy living on an elephant reserve and playing in the water with the elephants...learning about rappers in Sweden...seeing the living space for a poor family in Morrocco, seeing how privileged life can be in New Jersey...

Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey spent six years traveling for the film, interviewing the kids. At the end there's a bit of a "where are they now?" sequence where you can see a few of the kids anywhere from a year to four years later. Changed voices, changed bodies, older kids. It was startling, like a transformation before your eyes.

I am Eleven is not in Bay Area theaters right now, but keep an eye out for it. It's coming back to the Bay Area on Monday, November 24, 2014 at the Crow Canyon Stadium 6 in San Ramon, on Wednesday, December 3 at Cameo Cinema in Santa Rosa, and on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at the Camera Seven Pruneyard in San Jose. Find these and other screenings here. You can click the "notify me" button to get alerts sent to you.

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