FILM REVIEW: I AM ELEVEN

[FIRST PUBLISHED ON  THE MODERN WOMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE]

“I’ve always dreamed there would be no borders – that the world would just be one country. That way, there will be no more inequalities.” – Remi, 11, France

I Am Eleven is the first feature documentary by Genevieve Bailey founder of Proud Mother Pictures. After being in a serious car accident and having her dad pass away, she was in a difficult place and not feeling content in life. Her aim became to make something that would simply make not only herself but also her audiences happy.

Thinking back to her favourite age in life, when she was eleven and wondering what being eleven was like today; Genevieve set off on a world wide adventure, that would take several years, to talk to eleven year olds across the globe, their individual personalities, similarities and differences further inspiring the film.

Focusing on a series of eleven year olds from fifteen diverse countries I Am Eleven is an incredibly well made documentary filled with beautiful shots and vivid colouring. It paints a visually striking and thought provoking portrait of humanity at such a crucial in between age, not yet adults but at the same time not quite children.

Showing the world through the most innocent of eyes and each of the kids so diverse, Bailey introduces us to: Indian girls living in an orphanage, a French boy with wisdom beyond his eleven years, Muslim rappers living in Sweden, an Aboriginal girl who lives with her for a day, a bullied British boy, a Czech girl who dreams of becoming a secret agent, a bubbly American girl and many more. The children’s stories perfectly and gracefully interwoven with each other.

The film offers a glimpse into the minds of these eleven-year olds world wide, as in their own language they each share and ponder a range of subjects; from love, to war, to terrorism, to environmental issues, religion, family and the future. The raw honesty, beautiful naivety and innocence of their various reactions will have you experiencing a wide spectrum of emotions from awe, to laughter, hope and sympathy.

The camera creates a sense of warmth and intimacy with the children, despite the close proximity with the children, it is never intrusive and their reactions never feel forced. The pure optimism of each of the children is astounding, even for the ones forced to mature, burdened with more than any eleven year old should ever have to bear. Their differences are able to be transcended as they all have that one crucial element in common; despite their diversities of lifestyle, personality and circumstance, they all are linked, they are all eleven.

I Am Eleven is a remarkably sweet film, it achieves what Genevieve Bailey set out to do and so much more. Not only will it make audiences happy and entertained, it will leave you with a sense of nostalgia, remembering what things were like when you were eleven as well as feeling a connection to each of the distinctly remarkable children. It is definitely one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time and I would highly recommend it to people of all ages – it’s a definite must see earning a solid nine out of ten stars.

To meet the children, share your stories from when you were eleven, find out more about the film or discover where you can view it, check out the official website here.

I AM ELEVEN documentary – official trailer from I Am Eleven on Vimeo.

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Film Review: The Sapphires

[FIRST PUBLISHED ON THE MODERN WOMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE]

A fun film that manages to celebrate life and covers a range of social, political and racial issues, all while entertaining a diverse audience. Sounds impossible, right? Well, Deborah Mailman manages to do just that in her stunning new Australian film The Sapphires.

Inspired by a moving true story and adapted from a stage play, the film tells a quintessentially Australian tale- following an all {Aboriginal} girls’ group during the 1960s as they strive to make their dreams to become stars come true.

The McCrae sisters, Cynthia {Miranda Tapsell}, Gail {Deborah Mailman} and Julie {Jessica Mauboy} grew up on a remote Aboriginal mission where singing was a huge part of their lives from a young age. They honestly believed country music was the best kind to sing to help them realise their goals. Until, that is, they entered a talent competition and met a boozy Irishman in the music industry named Dave Lovelace {Chris O’Dowd}.

He gives the girls a Motown makeover introducing them to soul music, and it seems their dreams could come true once and for all.  With the addition of a fourth member, a long estranged cousin Kay {Shari Sebbens}, the group undergoes a transformation into the shimmering Sapphires, becoming an instant song and dance sensation. They’re offered the chance of a lifetime playing for the troops in Vietnam.

Filled with fabulous, sparkling ‘60s outfits and a lot of soulful singing that will have you wanting to dance in your chair, The Sapphires not only has elements of comedy, but probes more dramatic and profound themes as well: illustrating the realities of war, the harshness of racism extant in Australia during the time and even referencing the Stolen Generation.

However, overall the film still manages to be uplifting and positive; using the music and classic tracks such as “I’ll take you there” and “I heard it through the grapevine” to impart a sense of joy not only to the soldiers within the film, but the audience as well.

The use of black and white archival footage of the war and of the Aboriginal camps of the ‘60s adds a great effect to the movie, truly emphasising the harsh reality of these situations, especially when juxtaposed against the glamorous entertainment industry.

All of the actors perfectly encapsulate the essence of their characters, and the beautiful vocals only enhance their performances. Deborah Mailman, who is the most experienced of the four leads, plays the majority of the more dramatic scenes and does a truly wonderful job in the way she handles them.

I would give The Sapphires a solid 8 out of 10 stars. It is a great Australian movie that will have you experiencing the widest spectrum of emotions, so have your tissues ready and be prepared to want to dance along to each and every one of the songs.