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I Am Eleven - Film Review

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by Emily Finlay (subscribe)
A freelance writer and editor living in Melbourne, I'm an avid fan of film, television and literature.
Published September 9th 2012
At the age of twenty-four, following a dark period in her life, Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey decided to travel overseas and interview eleven-year-olds in every country she visited. She wanted to do something that would make herself and her audience happy. She succeeded; I am Eleven is a beautifully-crafted documentary that is both nostalgic and optimistic.

I Am Eleven
I Am Eleven

Bailey chose eleven-year-olds because she remembered that age as the happiest time of her life; the age at which we are no longer children, but not yet adults. The children come from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds, and while they are all very different, they all share the naivety of youth and hope for the future.

One of the best things about the documentary is that it's incredibly funny, due to the children's frank observations and opinions. One of the standouts is Billy, who lives in London. He doesn't like the 'girlish stuff' girls do, but he likes 'Dirty Dancing because they have great dance moves plus nice romance.'

The contrast between the children's living conditions is also striking. They are all so optimistic that it is easy to forget that they have very different concerns; when asked what they would change in the world, American Kimberly says that she would make 'weekends are not two days that they're like four days and school is only three days a week.' In comparison, the young girls who live in an Indian orphanage wish for a house of their own.

Some of the children speak with incredibly maturity. Remi, from France, talks about being a citizen of the world. 'I've always dreamt there are no borders, that the world would just be one country. That way there will be no more inequalities.' While their statements show their naivety and youth, they also show the children's incredible tolerance.

The film finishes by revisiting some of the children when they are no longer eleven. The children talk about how much they have changed, and while some of them seem exactly the same, it is remarkable to see how much they have grown, both physically and mentally, in the space of a few years.

I am Eleven is a film that takes you back to a time when the world was full of possibilities. It makes you think about the choices you have made, and leaves you hoping for a bright future.

I AM ELEVEN documentary - official trailer from I Am Eleven on Vimeo.

Visit for more information, including videos of the eleven-year-olds.
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Why? A beautifully-crafted documentary that is both nostalgic and optimistic.
When: Out now
Where: In cinemas
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