February 13, 2009

NEWS / EVENTS: Kids' films tackle grown-up themes at Berlin festival

Kids' films tackle grown-up themes at Berlin festival

BERLIN (AFP) — The 59th Berlin Film Festival this week has a whole section of films about the world as seen through children's eyes but many tackle shockingly adult themes.

"Niloofar" for example is a film about a 13-year old Iraqi girl trying to hide the fact that she has started to menstruate in order to put off for as long as possible her arranged marriage.

Set in Iraq but using Iranian actors, one day the truth emerges. Niloofar runs away and her brother is told to kill her to preserve the family honour.

"I think it's a bit heavy going for children," the film's Lebanese director Sabine El Gemayel admits.

Another rough ride that is worlds apart from children's classics like "The Lion King" or "The Wizard of Oz" is "Gagma Napiri" ("The Other Bank") by Georgian director George Ovashvili.

It tells the story of a 12-year-old boy called Tedo living on the outskirts of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, a refugee from war in the breakaway Abkhazia region.

Tedo decides to go back to be with his father, who was unable to flee because of poor health -- a journey that opens his eyes to how nasty adults can be, witnessing at one point a woman being raped and an unarmed man being shot.

"This is a movie about a child but it's not a children's movie," Ovashvili said. "One girl said to me she was scared. I'm afraid if they are scared."

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