My wonderfully strange week with Tess (2019)
“Are you ready for a few new memories?” It takes quite a while for Sam to ask that question and until then a lot has happened in the one week of his life here on the holiday island with his parents and big brother spends. And with Tess, or not, because actually he wants to train in solitude, every day a little more and longer. After all, that’s what he thinks he’s the youngest in his family and will die last when no one else is there anymore. So it’s about time to practice in it – and where would that be better than here, in the vast dunes right in front of the smacking mudflats?
From the Netherlands come out again and again quite outstanding children’s films, and Steven Wouterloods My wonderfully strange week with Tess very lightly inscribes herself into this unofficial tradition; and at least one can imagine why that is. The film does not stop to see a problem in the clear states and differences of life and coexistence. Sam is on the way with his father and mother, the mother has migraine again and again, the brother does not take the younger boy seriously; Tess’ mother, on the other hand, is a single parent, but that is simply an existence like others.
(Photo: Farbfilm Verleih)
Alone among sisters (2017)
As a 12-year-old, it’s generally not easy anyway – early-pumping, in love for the first time, but you still know nothing about how to actually do it with love. As if that was not enough, Kos (Julian Ras) also wants to make football career, his father is in hospital, the mother is dead and the hotel of the family must be thrown …
The chaos that is at the beginning of Alone among sisters to visit is first of all the charm of many family comedies: The father (Frank Lammers), chain smoking and heartfelt, only with difficulty keeps the decaying house in operation and his daughters Libbie (Abbey Hoes), Briek (Bente Fokkens) and Pel (Linde van der Storm) in the bridle. With Kos, he gets on best, but when, under the watchful eyes of a talent scout, during a football final to the decisive penalty kicks, he collapses on the sidelines: the heart.
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Help, our teacher is a frog! (2016)
One has to imagine the Dutch village school as a place of most idyllic learning. In any case, this is obvious when you look at the quite numerous children’s films that come from the Netherlands and in which (mostly) primary school pupils and their educational institutions play a more or less important role (Mister Twister – Cyclone in the classroom and his sequels, as well Dummy the mummy). Almost always, so much is noticeable, there are relaxed teachers (mostly shy men of extremely pleasant beings), who take over the annoying things with the children rather than sideline and otherwise act almost at eye level.
Or just from below: The title of Help, our teacher is a frog! you can take quite literally. In fact, teacher Franz actually turns into a pretty green frog when his surroundings force him to think of the little amphibians by “frog” shouts or repeated croaking. Only the consumption of a fly then makes him human again. Of course, when his student Sita discovers this, she is surprised, but gladly agrees to keep it secret from the other students.
Help, our teacher is a frog! starts on 15 June 2017 in German cinemas. Here is my detailed review: Enchanting Idyll
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The wonderful Wiplala (2014)
Of the qualities of the Dutch film production you get in this country usually not very much, even if every now and then quite outstanding films come from the small country by the sea. Particularly noteworthy is the continuous output of interesting children’s and youth films: light-footed, silly comedies, small adventure films, thoughtful dramas – in most cases on an equal footing with the young viewers, without ever acting condescendingly, as in comparable German productions unfortunately much too often the case.
That The wonderful Wiplala in Germany now appears directly on DVD, is probably mainly because the underlying children’s book classic by Annie M.G. Schmidt is not so well known in this country. However, the story directed by director Tim Oliehoek of the little Wiplala, who can “tinkle” (some people would say it is imprecise to translate as “magic”), would definitely have had the format for a theatrical release.
Berlinale 2016: Siv Over Vilse (Mia sleeps elsewhere, 2016)
The seven-year-old Siv (or, in the German translation, Mia) is a bit intrigued by the red-haired Cerisia, who has newly arrived in her class. She is happy to invite you for an overnight stay; but in Cerisa’s apartment everything is a little different than at home. Siv lives alone with her father, everything is familiar and small there. The walls are high at Cerisia, the hallway has many doors, the trompe-l’oeil wallpaper does not really know what’s real and what does not, and then there’s the dog with the strange ulcer on its head.
Siv’s stay in Catti Edfeldt’s film turns from a small adventure with vague discomfort to a night-time dream trip, in which the reality is a little off their hinges. There seems to be magic in the game, but it’s never just knit in one direction: not only the deer from the one painting has moved out of its frame, even the tiger from the picture next to it. The guinea pigs of the family have become talking, rhyming raccoons, constantly lying, telling each other and Siv nonsense.
This is a dream with the ambivalent qualities of a true dream: sometimes a little menacing, sometimes very beautiful and poetic. The adults are weird people who are allowed to eat unhealthy things and eat cake in their beds at night. In each room, Siv seems to have a different size, the vacuum cleaner is her friend, plastic squeaky duck, however: well, you do not know exactly. Lewis Carroll says hello.
Of course, wants Siv Over Vilse no Alice in Wonderland Edfeldt turns the story around a world full of fantasy, adventure and ambiguity, but still gets a happy ending, albeit one with a wink. This is all a thousand times better than übererindeutiges children’s television.
Siv Over Vilse (Mia sleeps elsewhere), Sweden / Netherlands 2016. Director: Catti Edfeldt, Lena Hanno Clyne. 79 minutes, recommended from 7 years. So far no theatrical release.
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The children’s film blog presents current films for children and adolescents mostly shortly before their respective theatrical release – but also children’s films, which have become classics, or those that can only be seen at festivals and which otherwise remain under the radar. There are trailers, reviews and interviews – with actors, directors or voice actors. Film selection is not about genre or budget, documentaries are discussed as well as animation – from cartoon to CGI. Whether secret masterpiece or Disney mass-produced – it’s about quality, fun in the film and the film art. More about me and the goals of the blog.
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