Education resources are currently being developed for a number of the films with information and links to the Australian Curriculum and SACE. The activities within the resources are designed and developed to engage students in:
Learning about and using knowledge, skills, processes and technologies to explore media arts practice and make media artworks that communicate ideas and intentions.
Exploring, interpreting, analysing and responding to films they view at the Adelaide Film Festival Youth program.
The Club of Ugly Children
In a future world where everyday technology and ever-present news reports are eerily similar to our own, President Isimo (Roeland Fernhout) is on a mission to clean up the streets. Forever reminded by propaganda on the streets and in schools, students march and sing in unison while President Isimo plan goes to the next level when he starts rounding up all the children he deems hideous and hiding them out of sight. One such kid is Paul de Wit (Sem Hulsmann), who starts a guerilla movement against the dictator and becomes the face of a vigilante street art campaign resisting Isimo’s rule. Featuring slick production design and gutsy performances, The Club of Ugly Children is a bold, hopepunk satire about fascism.
Raise The Bar
Get ready to rumble with firebrand basketball coach Brynjar Karl Sigurðsson. In 2015, he founded what would become one of the most controversial sports teams in Icelandic history. It was comprised entirely of eight-year-old girls. By 2017, they’re playing against, and often beating, the local boys’ teams, but run afoul of the Icelandic Basketball Association when they ask to compete in the country’s first-ever national tournament for 10-year-olds – and are unceremoniously denied a spot. It’s a shockingly sexist move, given Iceland’s reputation as one of the most feminist countries on Earth. But, as Brynjar notes, basketball is just a blueprint for the big, wide world and its searing double standards.
Based on true events, this radical coming-of-age story remembers the 1990s Oka Crisis through children’s eyes. Sweet, obedient Tekehentahkhwa (Kiawenti:io Tarbell, Anne with an E) – nicknamed ‘Beans’ for the ease of her white peers – is a Mohawk girl standing at the cliff face of adolescence. When a land rights dispute divides her small hometown, Beans is inspired by her First Nations family, fighting to protect a pine forest and sacred burial grounds for the expansion of a golf course. Closer to home, she finds excitement under the broken wing of older teen April (Paulina J Alexis, Ghostbusters: Afterlife). Soon enough, Beans is going toe-to-toe with racist cops, sleazy boys, even her own parents, as she struggles to decide not what she wants to be when she grows up, but who.
Manhattan may be synonymous with Broadway, but for the kids at Chinatown’s Yung Wing Elementary School, the so-called ‘Great White Way’ is exactly that: white. In the US, the Asian American community has historically been underrepresented on stage and screen, and this curious, irreverent documentary explores the repercussions, as felt by a group of second-generation immigrant kids rehearsing Disney’s Frozen for their theatre club. While the Scandinavian fairytale may, at first, seem worlds away from the lived experience of downtown diaspora children, its themes of family, duty and responsibility crack open timely talking points on internalised racism, cultural imperialism, and the lifelong importance of creativity and self-expression.
A rollerskating poet collides with selfie opportunists in Venice Beach. A babysitter soliloquises her queer pride for fellow passengers on a Metro bus. A young man rails against gentrification on his city-wide search for a cheeseburger. Over one oppressive summer’s day in LA, the lives of 25 young people intersect like cracks in concrete. Their respective stories – shared via the medium of spoken word and slam poetry – speak to experiences of race, gender, sexuality and capitalism in the cultural West. Upon reaching critical mass, they craft a lyrical love-letter to the City of Angels, emphasising the therapeutic role that writing, music and creativity play in our everyday lives. Summertime is an audacious joyride, fueled by DIY verve and the power of words.
When Pomegranates Howl
How do young people metabolise trauma?
That’s the slow-burn question director Granaz Moussavi asks in her unflinching follow-up to My Tehran for Sale (AFF 2009). On the busy roads and back streets of Kabul, ten-year-old Hewad (newcomer Arafat Faiz) peddles pomegranates, amulets and wide-eyed naivety among his fellow citizens. Since his father was martyred, Hewad has been the family breadwinner, though he yearns to be a movie star – a pipe dream that becomes quietly plausible when the boy strikes up a friendship with an Australian war photographer. Sadly, the hand of fate has other plans in this lucid story of religion, superstition, destiny and circumstance. Inspired by real events, this film provides a window into Afghanistan through the eyes of its youth.
Summertime sadness is eating at Leigh (debutant Frankie Box),a lonely teen living on the outskirts of Brighton. Leigh lacks a meaningful relationship with her dad Rob (William Ash, Mad About Mambo) whose strategy for parenting is avoidance. and is struggling with her lost confidence as a gymnast since the loss of her mother. Then her half-brother Joe (Alfie Deegan) turns up unexpectedly, giving her the attention she yearns for, while leading her by the hand into petty crime hijinks. Eva Riley’s feature debut takes British social realism and reboots it for Zoomer viewers. These characters are real and raw and very relatable for a young audience.
Our Lady of the Nile
On the top of a hill near the source of the Nile in the lush Rwandan countryside of 1973 sits an elite Catholic girls’ school run by stoic Belgian nuns. Headstrong and adventurous, the pupils come from both Hutu and Tutsi backgrounds – a division that begins as simmering resentment, before slowly boiling over into an act of sinister brutality. Based on Scholastique Mukasonga’s incisive novel Notre-Dame du Nil (2012), this hauntingly beautiful portrait of young womanhood foreshadows the 1994 Rwandan genocide with the same bittersweet tone of coming-of-age staples like Bad Education and Stand By Me. Its lessons on religion, colonialism and class are as challenging as they are urgent, with surreal moments of magical realism adding to the striking mood. A beguiling slice-of-life story about human rights.
A School in Cerro Hueso
Soft as a cloud and rich with lived-in detail, Betania Cappato’s ode to neurodiversity is a breath of fresh air. Based on the writer-director’s own experience with a sibling on the autism spectrum, the gentle film follows Ema (Clementina Folmer), a nonverbal six-year-old starting school in a rural township outside Santa Fe, Argentina. In these scenarios, historically, characters with disabilities have either been subject to trauma and suffering, or deployed in Oscar-baiting tales of cloying inspiration. Here, Ema simply gets to be. Though her nature presents certain hurdles for her parents, teachers and classmates, Ema’s community adapts to her capacities, giving her space and time to quietly thrive on her own terms. A meditative, sun-drenched snapshot of allyship.