Art & Design


I Am Eleven

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Melbourne-born filmmaker Genevieve Bailey spent four years traveling to 15 different countries to talk to eleven-year-old children: a feat I’d have considered completely torturous until I watched the film and was introduced to the fascinating subjects Bailey had chosen to interview.

The resulting documentary, I Am Eleven is essentially a compilation of interviews with these children, getting their opinions on a gamut of different topics: love, marriage, the concept of family, racial equality, and each of them prove surprisingly adept at answering questions that even we as adult sometimes struggle with.

The success of I Am Eleven is in no small part due to its subjects. Most notable were a number of young girls who live in an orphanage in India and have formed their own family unit, Jamira, a charismatic indigenous girl who lives in Melbourne with her father, and Billy, a boy from London who loves pro-wrestling and, in perhaps my favourite moment in the doco, shows a vulnerable attraction towards director Bailey.

Though the documentary never digs quite deep enough, choosing to remain for the most part on the surface of these children’s lives, it is by no means ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’. Each of the children have something incredibly engaging about them, whether it’s their intelligence coupled with naivety that forms a charming outlook or that they are surprisingly insightful at times—particularly a philosophically-inclined French boy, who seemed to have a better grasp on life than I do—each of them are incredibly engaging to watch. It would be interesting to see each of them in the future, and perhaps Bailey will continue to follow their lives, much like the Seven Up! series. I look forward to seeing I Am Twenty-Two in 2022.

Light, fun and entertaining, I Am Eleven has hit all the right notes by the closing credits, and makes me wonder whether I was ever that interesting at that age. I won’t think about that too hard, though.

I Am Eleven is playing at Greater Union at 9pm on Tuesday August 2 as part of MIFF.

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