When I was 11, I was dancing 5 days a week, going to girl scouts and slumber parties. Life was pretty incredible. I had not a worry in the world then. I did what I wanted, wore what I wanted, (when not in school uniform), loved The New Kids on The Block, and scrunchies. Everyday I came home from school and ate two pieces of American cheese folded into fourths. I was kind of peculiar, graceful yet awkward, bright and precocious, but I had a ton of friends and loved every day I was alive. Australian documentarian, Genevieve Bailey, recalls being just as happy at age 11. As an adult, she wondered if that was the case for kids today. Taking time off to travel, she decided that along here journey she would interview kids that were 11 and find out if they were as happy as we remembered being then. I AM ELEVEN proves to be a beautiful phenomenon and on the heels of the release of Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD, the timing could not be more perfect.
We are lucky enough to meet a vast array of children. From Thailand, India, France, England, Morocco, Sweden, Japan, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, China, Netherlands, Australia and the US, what we discover is evident; the spirit at that age is relentless. No matter where the kids grew up, be it an orphanage, in a city, bouncing from place to place with nomadic parents, age 11 is magical place where hopes are high and the sky is the limit.
Bailey broached each child with the same questions. What are you favorite things? Would you like to have a family of your own? What are your views on religion? Have you ever been bullied. This particular topic was extremely relevant to all the children. It was a shame really. Almost every one of them had been bullied at one point, but regardless they were all very astute. There was no filter on “saying the right thing.” They were incredibly self aware and confident, yet humble.
I was blown away by their passion to make the world a better place. They spoke of the environment, racism, and love. If you closed your eyes, you might think they were 90 years old in their pure wisdom. Not yet tainted by peer pressure or teen angst, we see the pure joy that 11 brings no matter where you reside.
I AM ELEVEN is universally charming and will make you wish you were 11 once again. Poignant and heartfelt, you will stop and think about how we influence the minds of children as adults. We must decide to guide today’s youth in a positive way. Don’t spoil what is already there; nurture it.
I AM ELEVEN opens this Friday.