Programme Review

DOCU/YOUTH: Between Light and Dark

08 May 2024

Youth is a time of great disruption. Time to discover the entire Universe, new, unknown, but also very interesting. It is an incredible and fascinating stage of entering a new world full of challenges and tests. But it is also a time of making a choice. Sometimes your first serious choice which can affect your whole future.

The DOCU/YOUTH programme dives into the exploration of the inner world of protagonists going through this important milestone. The films included in the selection are united by the theme of the turning point of entering the adult world. The things that make you take responsibility for the first time, learn how to see the world as it is, and sometimes make a still-unaware choice between its two poles. Between light and dark.



What choice do the protagonists make when circumstances and surroundings help them stay on track or, on the contrary, lead them aside, onto another path that may not always be right? How to recognize your path, understand and choose it for yourself? These are the complex questions that shape the broader topic of responsibility for your own life and future, the awareness of the signs of its both sides: the light and the twilight. The things you feel most acutely when you’re young.

The programme represents these opposites prominently in two feature-length films.


A still from the film KIX

The socially oriented Hungarian film
KIX by Bálint Révész and Dávid Mikulán captures the twilight side of existence which sneakily drags the film’s protagonist in. The dynamic and impulsively edited film captures the coming-of-age of an 8-year-old boy and his brothers whom the directors film for 8 years in a row. Until the very moment when the teenagers’ story is punctuated by a reckless crime that changes their lives. It is interesting and extremely sad to realise that the characters’ paths are taking shape on screen in real time. It's interesting and extremely sad to realise how real life has led to this movie. And even sadder is how the characters’ paths are taking shape on screen in real time. 


A still from the film Girls' Stories

The opposite to this is another world. The optimistic Polish film Girls' Stories by Aga Borzym is about the stories of two friends who are only beginning to explore the unclear horizon which is, however, full of interesting discoveries. The search for oneself creates a lightweight and atmospheric film for teenagers which can also be very educational for adults. The film, created with a taste for life, immerses us into its teenage stage. 

The selection of shorts in DOCU/YOUTH also develops the subject of discovering the world and accepting responsibility.


A still from the film
Nelson the Piglet

The multilayered and funny Dutch short Nelson the Piglet by Anneke De Lind van Wijngaarden is a true hit on the subject of “Never give up”. What do you do when a minipig you’ve given to your son as a present turns out to be a very non-miny creature and grows into a 500-kilogram giant in seven years? This begins to disturb and frighten others, negatively affecting the lives of ordinary families. Solving this complex situation in the age of mass and social media can be completely unpredictable.


A still from the film Plasticine Dreams

The sad and painful experience that many Ukrainian teenagers are going through right now is captured by Vadym Makarov’s student short Plasticine Dreams. The author uses audio recordings of the voices of people who have left their homes during the war. They are forced to accept their coming-of-age in the conditions of Russian aggression and find answers to the adult question which they would probably never have thought about: what is their home for them?


A still from the film Girl Away From Home

A similar look at the subject of searching for oneself after being displaced by the war is presented by Simon Lereng Wilmont and Alisa Kovalenko’s film Girl Away From Home. How do you cope with uncertainty and start everything from scratch when you are far from home, in a different country, among strangers? For the film’s protagonist, 13-year-old Nastia, her love for sports and gymnastics becomes a support and guiding light that, despite everything, keeps her on the chosen path towards her dreams.


A still from the film Madeleine

Life is quick and short, and dreams do not always come true. But you can get a chance at any point, not even necessarily in youth. This is what the Canadian short Madeleine by Raquel Sancinetti is about. It is a hybrid documentary that uses animation as an accompaniment to visualise dreams. The film is based on the true story of the friendship between its director and a 107-year-old Madeleine from a retirement home. Raquel tries to convince Madeleine to join her on a trip to the sea — possibly her last adventure…

“God forbid you live in an age of change,” the well-known saying tries to convince us. Youth is an age of change every day, full of adventures, inspiration or disappointment — experience gained for decades ahead. Life is boundless, but youth is its brightest and most honest part, whatever it is like.

Text: Oleh Melnychuk, programme coordinator at Docudays UA.

Main photo: a still from the film 
Girl Away From Home.

________
The 21st Docudays UA is held with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, the US Embassy in Ukraine, International Media Support, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ukraine, the Embassy of Estonia in Ukraine, the Polish Institute in Kyiv, Institut français d'Ukraine, Danish Cultural Institute, the Czech Centre in Kyiv, and the Embassy of Hungary in Kyiv. The opinions, conclusions, or recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of the governments or organisations of these countries. Responsibility for the content of the publication lies exclusively on the authors of the publication.

21 INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
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