SYNOPSIS: Several eleven-year-olds - from 15 countries - each speaks in their own words to reveal the private obsessions and public concerns that drive their lives. The film becomes a survey of the similarities and distinctions between cultures and an intimate account of these young personalities finding their way in the world today.
Review by Andrew L. Urban: Washing elephants in Thailand, playing in England or just talking to the camera in the Czech Republic, more than a dozen 11 year olds make up the cast of this simple and sincere doco put together by young Melbourne journalist Genevieve Bailey during a world trip.
From Finland to Morocco, from France to China, she introduces us to kids that range in maturity from the surprisingly mature French boy to the immature English lad and girls that range from timid to extroverted. We jump from orphanage to private home to open road to dormitory room.
One thing that stands out for me is how even in the deepest poverty, these children don't seem capable of self pity; and they display deep and sincere compassion. I guess we all did at 11. (As a sort of footnote, Bailey goes back to some of them when they are a couple of years older; it's an interesting gear change.)
Bailey has edited the material herself and she has made it something of a travelogue with sudden shifts of place. Any meaningful social observation is left to the audience to supply. As always, though, the children hold our attention as all children and animals do - and there are some animals, too, including those elephants. English kid Jack who hangs around them tells us the amazing cure for headaches: just lean your head against an elephant's head and the headache goes. He did it yesterday. Which just goes to show, there is always something to learn from kids. And animals. And documentaries.