Reviews from the 2000 Berlin Kinderfilmfest

Petterson und Findus
Manolito Gafotas (Manolito Four Eyes)
Blinker
Man Van Stall (Man of Steel)
Dokhtari Ba Kafsh-Haye-Katani (The Girl in the Sneakers)
Mr. Rice's Secret
Rang-E-Khoda (The Color of Paradise)
Tri Brata (Three Brothers)
Tsatsiki, Morsan Och Polisen (Tsatsiki, Mom and the Policeman)
Sherdil
Zukkoke Sannin Gumi-Kaito X Monogatari (Adventures of the Hilarious Trio)

Petterson und Findus, Sweden/Germany 1999
Albert Hannan Kaminski
74 mins., Animation
5 years and up
Old farmer Petterson and his cat Findus are caught in a snow storm. They build an igloo for shelter, climb inside and cheer themselves by reminiscing. All the while through their various short narratives, funny rodent-like characters whisk in and out of scenes, making mischief completely unrelated to the narrative. These whimsical characters captivate at a different but not distracting level than the narrative, sometimes they participate, sometimes they have their own story. Clever and experimental, it plays to children's complex capacities.
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Manolito Gafotas (Manolito Four Eyes), Spain 1999
Directed by Miguel Albaladejo
90 mins.
In Spanish with English subtitles
Ages 7 and up

Irreverent as real kids are, bespectacled Manolito has an irreverent, yet insightful, nickname for everyone. His friends are "Big Ears" and "Dirty Underpants", his little brother who is nearly surgically attached to his pacifier, is "the Moron" , his grandfather he calls the "Super Prostate." His father drives a truck and is absent from the home for long periods leaving mother to disciplining the children. When Manolito's sunken math scores require him to take a summer course, preventing the family from going on holiday, the tiny Madrid apartment is about to explode until Dad agrees to take Manolito on the road. Manolito is an unadulterated character and his family's life is pretty rough but the story finds its humor through the four eyes of a clear-eyed boy.

The KinderFilimfest International Jury awarded it Special Mention for it being „a warm, hilarious and accurate betrayal of a working-class family and their daily struggles.
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Blinker, Belgium 1999
Directed by Filip Van Neyghem
92 minutes
in French with English subtitles
ages 8 and up

A hand-held camera montage introduces us to the boy's family. The film continues artfully with the allowance of genuine characters both youth and adult. Dad's character is the clown and offers enough physical comedy to capture the youngest audience, but doesn't lack respectability. Blinker has a close-knit group of friends including a gentle giant character, Mats, who is a bit like Steinbeck's Lenny. A few stories weave through Blinker's life: an unsolved murder in their small town for which clues are being revealed to the young friends; an authentically portrayed first love story for Blinker (captured stirringly in the young actor's eyes); and the quest to invent something for a national contest. There is genuine warmth for friends and family, conflict with some bullies, and richness in the children's path to solutions.
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Man Van Stall (Man of Steel) Belgium 1999
Directed by Vincent Baa
85 minutes
in French with English subtitles
ages 12 and up
A sensitive and intelligent coming of age movie about a young man coping
with the death of his father and experiencing first love. Statement from the International Jury in their presentation of the Grand Prize for the best feature film in the KinderFilmFest.
Just after his father's death, Victor is sent to live with his aunt and uncle at their inn. The film intelligently conveys the delicate emotions of such a period in this young teen's life. He is distraught and often removed into his dream world where he can visit his father. He has a sensitively treated first sexual encounter with the employee of the inn's restaurant but ultimately, climbs out of his sorrow and opens himself up to a girl his own age and to helping his uncle out of a dangerous bind through what he believes is honesty.
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Dokhtari Ba Kafsh-Haye-Katani (The Girl in the Sneakers) Iran 1999
Directed by Rassul Sadr Ameli
110 minutes
in Parsi with English subtitles
ages 12 years and up

Fifteen year-old Tadei and Aidin are arrested for being together. In Iran, it is forbidden for an unmarried woman to keep company with men outside of her family. Tadie‚s virginity is questioned and she is required to be checked by a doctor. Despite the report that Tadei has not been touched, the parents are devastated by the shame and forbid the two from seeing each other. Depressed and longing for Aidin, Tadei runs away into the streets of Tehran, getting help from strangers and being shunned by friends. Her conflict with societal restrictions is sincere and her solutions not always the smartest but very certainly the moves of a teenage girl experiencing a passionate awakening and developing confidence.
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Mr. Rice's Secret Canada 1999
Directed by Nicholas Kendall
92 minutes
in English
ages 9 and up

The Kinder Jury awarded Special Mention to MR. RICE'S SECRET because
it is an unusual and suspenseful story with very good actors, great music and fascinating cuts. We wish we had a magic ring like Owen in this film.
This was the film that moved the teens most. They liked that it could be hip in its character studies and human in its theme. We come into the story of a young man who has been coping with the terminality of his cancer as well as the desire to belong to an adolescent world of "normal" kids. Mr. Rice (David Bowie) , who is also struggling with his own mortality, is a guide Owen. Dad and mom are inspiringly portrayed in their own struggle to balance their other children's needs while maintaining hope through the palpable sadness of Owen's condition. When Mr. Rice dies, he leaves Owen a key and a few clues that lead him on a compelling treasure hunt and ultimately, to a realization of his truest strength.
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Rang-E-Khoda (The Color of Paradise)
Directed by Majid Majidi
Iran, 1999
88 min.
for ages 11 and up

A wide spectrum of intense emotions arose during this film. Its realities
are indeed harsh: betrayal by a parent. The emotional structure could be anywhere. Here it is in the Iranian countryside. The adept camera brought
me in to touch, smell, and hear the film as well as to see the beauty around Mohammed, who is blind, about nine. His father, a widower, is too enveloped
in his own misery to feel the joy that Mohammed brings. To the father, the
boy is a burden and will never provide for the family, so he arranges for an apprenticeship with a blind carpenter. His grandmother, though, believes in the boy's potential to be further educated and reacts strongly to the father's actions. The father's misery is deep, and a failed second chance at his own happiness drives him deeper into his demise. The consequences for Mohammed are sad and enraging. But this brilliant film will only take you to the depths of the possibilities of these emotions but never shatters the its poetic composition
with leaving the viewer without hope.
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Tri Brata (Three Brothers) Kazachstan/Japan 1999
Directed by Serik Aprimov
77 mins
In Russian with English subtitles

A few young audience members felt the film was boring and slow, despite it's actual shorter-that-usual-feature running time. The slow pacing they felt was no doubt a sensation of the barren terrain of the village in Kazachstan where three brothers live with their mother. The older and middle boys compete for power and the youngest, Chibbut, plays a double agent between them. The boys and their mates have a common goal on the cusp of their adolescence awakenings: to find the mystical lake where an old drunken soldier has told them they would surely find their first sexual experiences. Finally, the tension is too great, and the older boys make a break. They leave Chibbut behind and steal one of the military trains minded by the drunken soldier, making their way to the mystical lake and meet a different destiny. The story is narrated by a grown up Chibbut, who grew up to be a fighter pilot.
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Tsatsiki, Morsan Och Polisen (Tsatsiki, Mom and the Policeman) 1999
Sweden, Norway, Denmark co-production
Directed by Ella Lemhagen
91 mins.
In Swedish with English subtitles
ages 8 and up

This is a refreshing treatment of a potentially volatile subject with gentleness and a great regard for each character's humanity. Each twist in the story that could present disappointment or draw social criticism opens another opportunity for the writer, director and actors to reveal the depth and warmth of the characters, regardless of lifestyle. Tina is a single mom who plays guitar in a rock band and she protects her den like a lioness. Tsatsiki is her eight year old son who only knows his father by a photo but dreams of going to Greece and diving for octopus with him someday. He regularly practices holding his breath underwater in preparation for the day when mom finally does agree to take him to Greece. Meanwhile, a policeman that Tsatsiki met at the pool one day, ends up subletting a room in their flat. Göran helps out around the house and befriends Tsatsiki and, Tsatsiki impishly encourages, his mother, too. Life's dealings finally call for a vacation and mom agrees to going to Greece, and against her preferences, back to the village where she had met Tsatsiki's father. The rest reveals the strength of a real story told from a fresh non-judgemental perspective. Tsatsiki is indeed a hero but not by using superhuman powers, but by simply being allowed to rely on his natural instincts. For that reason, the grown-ups are heroes, too.

Winner of the Kinder Jury Crystal Bear and the Grand
Prize from the International Jury.
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Sherdil, Sweden 1999
Directed by Gita Mallik
97 mins.
In Swedish with English subtitles
for ages 11 and up

This is not a typical horse story for the young teenaged girl who loves horses. The story arose out of an actual event in Sweden's recent history. Sweden
was offered a gift of three beautiful stallions from the government of Pakistan.
The horses were to have been kept in quarantine until cleared of any viruses. Instead, the Army was anxious to ship them to their destination and erred to drastic results in doing so. Now the horses were a national health risk. In an attempt to cover their mistake, the Army ordered the horses to be killed. With this film, writer/director Gita Mallik answers the question, "What if?" What if an equestrian student of fifteen, who lives near the stables, discovers the fate of these prized horses? What might a young person dream of doing if she/he had heard about this injustice? The story of one girl's reaction is refreshingly told against a backdrop of the real life of an adolescent: family, school, friendships and growing up in Sweden.
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Zukkoke Sannin Gumi-Kaito X Monogatari
(Adventures of the Hilarious Trio), Japan 1998
Directed by Tsutomu Kashima
100 mins.
in Japanese with English subtitles

This film is like a comic strip come to life with three preadolescent boys as the heroes. It might come off as a super-politically correct film when you consider that how the seven virtues have been distributed amongst the boys' characters. They are indeed super heroes but their magical powers are simply recognizing that they can use their natural scientific, athletic and moral gifts to solve problems and do good. A new school teacher helps foster their endeavors to find Mr. X, a mysterious villain who has kidnapped a classmate, the grandson of the mayor. Turns out Mr. X has returned seeking revenge on the government officials who scandalized him in an environmental sell-out that has since damaged the city's waterfront. Good does prevail and offers many obstacles along the way for the boys to overcome with their keen wits.
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