Curator's Choice: The Cinema of Childhood

| 24 April 2014

Curator’s Choice: Former Edinburgh International Film Festival programmer Mark Cousins on the wonder of touring the Cinema of Childhood

"The Cinema of Childhood grew out of my film A Story of Children and Film. In it, I show clips from many great, rare films.

My producer, Adam Dawtrey, and I talked about how nice it would be to show the whole movies. Our film, we hoped, would create an appetite, a desire to see more brilliant films about kids.

More broadly, the season derives from my fascination with childhood. The first thing I directed, for BBC Scotland in the late 80s, was about children, and my first feature, The First Movie, was about kids too, as was one of my collaborations with Tilda Swinton, the 8 1/2 Foundation.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival was the first film festival I programmed. After that, I was guest programmer at lots of events around the world - the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Sheffield Doc/Fest for three years.

We're showing ten films, I think. It was hard to narrow down the selection, because there are so many great films about kids.

I decided not to choose any of the famous ones, like ET, because people know them. Instead, I went for eye-openers: movies that are more vivid or imaginative or daring than we usually see.

So The White Balloon, from Iran, is about an incredibly bossy girl trying to buy a goldfish on New Year's Eve. It has real surprises.

The Little Fugitive is a gorgeous American movie about a boy at a funfair, riding the rides to forget something tragic that he thinks has happened.

Children in the Wind is a delicate beauty from Japan in the 30s, about a boy called Sampei and his friends.

Hugo and Josephine is like a long hot summer – golden, endless, full of smiles. Crows is a gripping Polish film about a bored girl who steals a younger girl and runs to the sea.  

Willow and Wind is a film from Iran that got a five-star review in the Guardian recently - people have been calling it a masterpiece. Tomka and his Friends has never been seen in the UK before, a great adventure film about boys fighting the Nazis in Albania, made by a great female director, Xanfise Keko.

Plus we are showing my own film, A Story of Children and Film, which was in Cannes and got rave reviews.

I love it when Josephine giggles as she eats eggs in Hugo and Josephine, and when the boy in The Little Fugitive learns how to take photos - what a laugh.

Programming feels like DJing to me, exciting people with what they know and what they don't. The Cinema of Childhood season is about films we sort of don't know, but that we should because they are magical, true, joyous and insightful."

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More Curator's Choices:

Jerwood Film and Video Umbrella Awards' selected artists

An eerie postcard of Rudyard Kipling's son before his death

Henri Matisse – The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern
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