Five astonishing films about childhood

Every childhood is marked by key moments that later on turn out to be life-changing experiences. Here are Walk this Way’s top 5 films about childhood, coming from different parts of the world - from France, through Kazakhstan to Ethiopia.

Daddy or Mommy by Martin Bourboulon (2015, France)

Available on VoD from 5 September as part of the Comedies à la carte collection

An unusual story about family and the notion of what constitutes a successful life, following Florence (Marina Foïs) and Vincent Leroy (Laurent Laffite) who decide to divorce and are ready to do everything in their power to NOT have custody of their three children – a comic reflection of an otherwise traumatic and turbulent experience for parents and children alike. Daddy or Mommy twists the usual family movie plot, behind which is the scriptwriting duo of the French hit What’s in the Name? It became one of the biggest successes at the 2015 box office in France. 

The Dandelions by Carine Tardieu (2012, France)

Already available on VoD as part of the 2015 Comedies à la carte collection

The world hides many secrets that may be revealed to us thanks to one special encounter. This is what happens to Rachel, a shy little 9 year old, loved by her father (Denis Podalydès) and oppressed by her possessive mother (Agnès Jaoui). Everything changes when she meets Valérie, a fearless girl of her own age with whom she opens up to life, her curiosity spreading wings and daring to express the freedom of her imagination. This comedy-drama swings between realism and the magical world of childhood, taking the audience along on this little girl’s journey, with spectacular performances by the two young leads (Juliette Gombert and Anna Lemarchand)  

Harmony Lessons by Emir Baigazin (2013, Kazakhstan, Germany, France)

Available on VoD from 28 November as part of the Award Winning Dramas collection

Directed by Emir Baigazin, Harmony Lessons is an award-winning feature following a Kazakh teenager Aslan – a lonely boy who is bullied at his new school and plans his revenge. A beautiful story about childhood and coming of age, it portrays the issue of bullying with an extraordinary close up on Aslan’s intimate world and stunning cinematography of the Kazakhstan landscape. The film was selected and awarded in numerous festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Berlin Bear for outstanding artistic contribution.

White Ribbon by Michael Haneke (2009, Austria, Germany, France, Italy)

Filmed in black and white, this mysterious and complex film will give you the chills. White Ribbon is set in rural Germany in the years before World War I. The strictly organised life of the inhabitants of one particular village will be shattered by a series of disturbing events. The film masterfully sheds light not only on later German events but on the German people’s upbringing as the childhood in the film is represented in all its brutality of rigorous discipline, hence the title of the film where the white ribbons are worn by the kids as a symbol of purity and innocence. Among many other awards, The White Ribbon was Winner of the 2009 Palme d’Or, winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Lamb by Yared Zeleke (2015, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Norway, Qatar)

Lamb is the first Ethiopian film to be screened at Cannes. A debut masterpiece by young director Yared Zaleke, the film follows the childhood of Ephraim, a 9-year old boy whose mother has recently passed away and whose father leaves him with close relatives as he goes to the city to find a job and provide for his son. Feeling abandoned and lonely, Ephraim finds affection only with a sheep that he treats not only as a pet but as his best friend with which he plans his escape. Set against the background of the stunning Ethiopian landscape, the audience will be captivated by the cinematography and touching story. Lamb spectacularly explores childhood in a country that is rarely represented in the cinema, therefore is a must-see for all cinephiles. 

vrijdag 2 september 2016, van Cineuropa