Ponderings on life, getting the most out of it, and the inspirational people you meet along the way.
The Ponder Room is a place where weary brains can rest, ruminate, re-energise. Like any trip to the powder room, some visits may miss the target or prove unnecessary, but you never know the next one might prove insightful, or at the very least leave you giggling and feeling a little bit lighter about life.
Wisdom comes with age ... maybe (I am Eleven by Geneviene Bailey)
Wisdom comes with age or so they say, but as I left the movie, I am Eleven, I pondered whether this saying needs a bit of re-gigging.
I am Eleven is the first feature film by Melbourne's Genevieve Bailey and her partner Henrik Nordstrom. Genevieve travelled to 15 countries talking to eleven year olds, an age described by one of her interviewees as a time when they are ‘no longer children, not quite adults’. It was comments like this one from Jack that had me pondering the wisdom of eleven year olds.
The film, launched in Melbourne, is currently beginning screened across the nation and internationally. It has already won a string of awards including: Best Documentary IF Awards; Audience Award Melbourne International Festival; Cleveland International Film Festival and Outstanding Documentary Award in Newport Beach Film Festival California.
Throughout the film the children touch on topics like love, war, global warming, terrorism, family happiness, religion and the future. Their answers swing from innocence to intense wisdom and poignancy.
Take Remi (‘I am not a citizen of France I am a citizen of the world’), who casually explains that there are ‘three types of love’, which came down to: the love you have for famliy and friends; love for people like Genevieve as someone he'd met and got to know; and then the love for the people you don't know. Later he added that he'd ‘always dreamt there are no borders, that the world would be one country, that way there will be no more inequalities’.
For me the central theme was one of love, particularly poignant when discussed by giggling children with beaming smiles, who turn out to be living in orphanages.
Secondary to this was the children's confidence and openness about their own beliefs.
At the end of the film we got to see a few of the children a little later aged 12, and it was intriguing to see that some of this self belief had begun to dwindle … all within 12 months.
One of the children summed up this change by explaining that ‘kids don’t have anything to hide’ whereas ‘adults are more cautious’ and ‘people are more scary now’. While it was wonderful to see this level of wisdom once again, it was sad to watch her innocence slipping away. Over coffee I pondered what could have caused such a shift in a relatively short period of time, what had they become more aware of?
This aside it was a delight to watch the reactions of a small group of eleven year old girls leaving the movie. When asked which life they liked the most, they all answered Goh, the Thailand boy working with elephants and training to become a monk, not Kimberly whose life and bedroom echoed their own.
In the end I left spellbound by the wisdom and inner belief of the children in I am Eleven. If the reactions of the eleven year olds around me were anything to go by, I really hope this film gets shown in schools.
Having undertaken several project that had me interviewing children on difficult topics, I can tell you it’s no easy task. Yet Genevieve makes the whole process look easy. Considering this it was interesting to read that she has already shot 40 short films, documentaries, videos and received over 25 awards including Melbourne’s Top 100 most influential creative people in 2011. I hope to feature Genevieve again on The Ponder Room soon.
I am Eleven is showing at Paradiso Cinema in Northbridge and LunaSX in Fremantle. For more information about the film, screenings, the children or to donate to the project go to http://iameleven.com/