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Angry Spiritis, Resentful Children in Cinema

In times when darkness envelops our soul, we feel a more intense longing for certain things. Around the ages when we fight for individuality and should be developing a sense of belonging, we feel more confused and alone than ever. Can one grow up in such a world and remain good? The answer is yes. Because no individual can undertake another’s life. That’s why we find people like ourselves and grow rigid in order not to separate. In his book Understanding Human Nature, Alfred Adler says, “The sense of solidarity and community takes root in the spiritual land of children never to be eradicated and can only leave in cases of dangerous degeneracy of the spiritual life as a result of ailment.” These films show how solidarity happens between lonely and desperate people and focus on childhood, early youth, and roots. I always feel embraced by these films which are the finest examples of solidarity born out of conflict and being yourself.


Lee Isaac Chung focuses on the perspective of a kid in his loyally simple film Minari, an epic of emotions that tell the story of a Korean family who moved from California to Arkansas. In this semi-autobiographical story set in the ‘80s, Chung follows the perspective of a kid named David, as a way to reveal the conflicts and ambiguity of assimilation. While following a “child-like miracle” from David’s eyes, who becomes hopeful to be remedied from his illness when his grandmother comes to their new house, the audience also feels curious about whether the minari plant from Korea will take root in American soil. The film made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. It’s a wonderful story about roots, what it means to be a family, cultural values, and building through solidarity, filled with detail-oriented, perfect, candid performances.


What makes Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro a riveting experience is that, unlike his entire anime filmography, he includes the drama of the moment instead of telling a traditional story. Portrayed from the perspective of two young girls, the film takes a refined approach to show us the magical, pure, and wonderful aspect of childhood in a world where fantasy blends with reality and the real world is filled with concerns. Set in Japan in 1958, the film starts with a professor moving to an old house by a giant forest with his daughters. The first thing the girls notice about their new house is that it’s the home of a giant yet gentle forest creature called Totoro, under a vast camphor tree. Though today’s technology is near-perfect in terms of micro details thanks to AI and CGI, it can never compare to Miyazaki’s art. The film is a milestone in the world of anime, where the finest examples could be counted with both hands in the last 50 years.

Capernaüm / Where Do We Go Now?

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki is immensely talented in showing the courage of people, even in their most desperate moments. Her first film Caramel (2008) is a cosy movie about women’s secrets about life and friendship, whereas her brutally honest drama Capernaum is a heart-wrenching and poetic story, focusing on the story of a Lebanese child who sued his parents for “giving him life” to quote his words to the judge. It serves both as an argument for a world is ruthless towards children and as a praise for resistance and endurance. From the perspective of 12-year-old Zain, one of the most unforgettable child characters in the history of cinema, the film asks us, adults, to think long and hard about what we owe to children - not just to our own but to all the children of the world. In her second film Where Do We Go Now?, she develops a naive narrative, occasionally polished with humorous elements, that emphasises how even religious conflicts do not stem from theology but, mostly, from testosterone. Following the growing animosity between Muslims and Christians in an isolated village in Lebanon, fed by what they see and hear on TV, the film shows women collaborating to make peace between men. The film has a strong message on the importance of living, showing solidarity, and creating together.


Following the Pride parade in 1984, a group of friends realise that their fight for gay rights is not that different from the struggle of miners who go on a strike as a result of Margaret Thatcher’s harsh politics against coal. They form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) alliance to raise money for the miners on strike. Until the group is accidentally invited to the village by a group of Welsh miners, the money they have collected are rejected by unions that feel hostile towards them. However, this misunderstanding gives birth to a strong alliance. Focusing on the connection between cultures and personal friendships that forever change the lives of those involved, Pride is a great example of the sense of empowerment that comes from doing good.


The Florida Project focuses on the story of a mother in her early 20s and her six-year-old daughter, Moonee. They live in a single room at a lavender- coloured motel near Disney World in Orlando. With the help of pre- adolescence whims, crises, and pastel-coloured walls, director Sean Baker turns his lens towards the dangerous daily lives of impoverished families living in a hotel right next to wealthy tourists. Blending fantasy with daily life, the film has striking moments of childhood while portraying how the characters creatively shape their lives. After all, being a kid means existing in some sort of alternative reality, strolling on the edge of everything that keeps adults busy.


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