1998. With Jairan Abadzade. 80 mins. Cert. U.

Four year old Jairan is ignored at home, and is itching for something to do.  She convinces her neighbour, an old lady who is partially blind, that the two of them should travel across one of the world’s busiest cities, Tehran, to buy rice.  What could possibly go wrong?  A gentle take on Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Talebi’s disarming film starts as an odd-couple adventure, then opens out into something profound and unforgettable.

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Featured article: Ehsan Khoshbakht on Bag of Rice

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1993. With Samaneh Jafar-Jalali, Raya Nasiri. 60 mins. Cert U.

A little girl, Samaneh, pesters her mother to buy her red boots, then loses one, then tries to find it. The story is fairy-tale simple, but the emotions swell, like in Bicycle Thieves. Director Mohammad Ali Talebi had been working with children for years, and it shows. He makes Samaneh one of the most vivid characters in the movies. The Boot is a brilliant introduction to his world.

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Featured article: Ehsan Khoshbakht on The Boot.

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1937. With Jun Yokoyama, Masao Hayama, Reikichi Kawamura. 88 mins. Cert tbc.

Sampei is a little rascal, the leader of his village gang, rallying his troops with the Tarzan cry of his hero Johnny Weissmuller. But when his father is falsely imprisoned for fraud, his idyllic life falls apart. Sent to stay with his uncle, Sampei runs away any chance he gets – up a tree, down the river, to the circus. If only he can help his father to clear his name, everything will be all right again. Hiroshi Shimizu’s luminous masterpiece is nearly 80 years old, but still shines brightly.

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Featured article: Chris Fujiwara on Children in the Wind


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1993. With Karolina Ostrozna. 66 mins. Cert tbc.

9-year-old Wrona (“crow” in Polish) is neglected at home, laughed at in school, and furious with the world. So she steals a cute little 3-year-old girl to become her surrogate mother. They run away to the sea, but Wrona soon discovers just how hard being a parent really is. Dorota Kedzierzawska’s film about an angry girl who just wants to love and be loved is tough yet tender, and elevated by gorgeous cinematography. But the film rests on the performance of Karolina Ostrozna, who’s extraordinary as the scrawny, scrappy misfit. You’ll want to hug her and make it all better, but she’d probably poke you in the eye.

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Featured article: Neil McGlone on Crows

User’s comment: Edmund here: “I came to Mark’s screening of [A Story of Children and Film] at the National Media Museum in Bradford a couple of months ago, which I enjoyed very much & which introduced me to a vast number of films which I knew nothing of before. Since then, I managed to get to the screening, in the same cinema, of the Japanese film, Moving (again, which I enjoyed very much). And then, yesterday evening I went to the double [...]

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1952. With Brigitte Fossey, Georges Poujouly. 86 mins. Cert. 12A.

German fighter planes massacre a column of refugees fleeing Paris on a country road. A dazed little orphaned girl is left wandering the fields clutching her dead dog. She’s adopted by a peasant boy who brings her into his eccentric family. The children retreat into a fantasy world, but they cannot hide from reality forever. Rene Clement’s angry masterpiece blends tragedy and farce into a heart-breaking account of children caught in a war they can’t possibly understand. Rene Clement’s reputation was obscured by the arrival of the French New Wave, but “Forbidden Games” stands alongside “La Grande Illusion” as one of the greatest anti-war statements ever filmed, and it made Brigitte Fossey a star at the age of just 5.


I think the single most underrated, under-discussed film of all time might be Rene Clement's Forbidden Games.

— Amir Soltani (@Amiresque) August 11, 2013

Featured article: Allan Fish on Forbidden Games


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1967. With Marie Ohman, Fredrik Becklen. 82 mins. Cert U.

The lonely daughter of a rural pastor makes friends with a wild boy who lives in the woods. The mysterious giant who tends the garden seems sinister, but is really a big teddy bear. The darkness of the world beyond childhood lingers at the edge of the frame, but never intrudes. There’s a triumphant ride on a penny-farthing, and an egg-eating scene to beat “Cool Hand Luke” (made in the same year, curiously). Kjell Grede delivers a Swedish summer classic, blond and gorgeous and heart-breakingly innocent. A pure pleasure.

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Featured article: Malena Janson on Hugo and Josephine

Further reading: “It is hard to imagine anybody not being caught up in the spell of this small, gentle masterpiece about two children, their private kingdom of nature and their relationship with a wise giant of a gardener.” —  Howard Thompson, New York Times [read here]

User’s comment:

Paul Steele here: “I was the same age as Hugo & Josephine at the time the film was made, and first saw it on television (BBC2 ? – definitely in black & white).  By then their “children’s realism” (I have previously incorrectly termed as “innocence”) was already lost to me as [...]

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1997. With Zhigang Zhang, Zhigang Zhao. 91 mins. Cert tbc.

An old illusionist in China needs an heir to pass on the secret of his mask tricks – so he buys himself a grandson from a needy peasant. But the child is hiding a secret. When the magician finds out, there’s hell to pay, and only spectacular action can save the day. Swooping emotional drama about a kid who wants to be loved, and an old man who learns how to open his heart.

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Featured Article: Allan Fish on the King of Masks

Further Reading: “Like so many recent Chinese films, it benefits enormously from the beauty of the setting, the costumes and the customs. It’s poignant to realize that a society of such beauty [...]

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1953. Dirs Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley. With Richie Andrusco. 80 mins. Cert. U

After their mother leaves them home alone in New York for the weekend, 7 year old Joey is tricked into thinking he’s killed his older brother with an air rifle. So he runs away, to the funfair at Coney Island, to get lost in the rides, the spectacle. Filmmaker Morris Engel and his team see so much in him: a cowboy, the boy in Shane, the kid in Chaplin’s The Kid. A film this fresh could not have been made in America in the 50s, and yet somehow it was – the first true indie movie, real life captured wild in the streets. Truffaut credited this film with inspiring the French New Wave. Amazing.

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Amazingly well behaved kids at Little Fugitive this morning. As entertaining for them as was for me? pic.twitter.com/rPrhmosFuO

— Charles Gant (@charlesgant) March 23, 2014


Featured article: Allan Fish on Little Fugitive

Further reading:

“An underseen indie-film landmark.” — Joshua Land, Village Voice [read here] Poets of Everyday Life: Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin

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1999. With Lissa Balera. 45 mins. Cert. U.

Sili, a crippled Senegalese girl, decides to do a boy’s job, selling newspapers on the streets of Dakar. She’s great at it, but the boys aren’t happy. Sili doesn’t care, and dances in a dress the colour of sunflowers. Djibril Diop Mambety’s little film is a big-hearted odyssey about daring to imagine what you can be, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

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“A masterpiece of understated humanity.” A.O. Scott, NY Times. THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN, viewable on Facebook: http://bit.ly/bEi2zQ

— Kevin B Lee (@alsolikelife) August 3, 2010


Featured article: Mark Cosgrove on the Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

Further ReadingPoignant and Sublime


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1965. With Zdenek Lstiburek. 134 mins. Cert. tbc.

Set in Moravia towards the end of WWII, Karel Kachyna’s forgotten masterpiece jumbles reality, memory and fantasy to capture the intensity of childhood in a war zone. Oldrich is the runt of his village, beaten by his father, bullied by the other boys. But he has imagination on his side, and a wiry toughness they can’t defeat. As the Nazis retreat and the Red Army advances, he dodges amid the mayhem, taking his share of blows but always managing to stay one step ahead. Darkly ironic and beautifully shot in epic widescreen, “Long Live the Republic” is a revelation.

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Featured article: Karel Och on Long Live the Republic

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1993. With Tomoka Tabata. 124 mins. Cert. PG.

Renko’s mum and dad are splitting up, and her heart is burning. So she plays with fire, tears up the rule book, holds herself hostage, even starts talking to the weird girl in school who’s the only other one with divorced parents. But as Renko watches her childhood go up in flames, she learns how to forge a new self from the embers. Director Shinji Somai is hugely regarded in Japan, but only starting to be known in the West, more than a decade after his death. Formally surprising and emotionally thrilling, Moving is the work of a remarkable filmmaker at the height of his powers.

Featured article: Chris Fujiwara on Moving

Staff Pick: Grace Denton, Digital Publishing Assistant at Watershed, recommends Moving


“I was compelled to see Moving by Mark’s short trailer, a clip of Renko, the young ‘protagonist’ of the film, running full pelt down the road, chasing the car that’s taking her father away from her family. Judging by previous depictions of parental divorce, I was expecting the film to contain over-blown emotions or saccharine moments, but Renko’s performance is so singular and accurate. She is a mass of contradictions, feeling vastly contrasting things almost at once. She is [...]

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1949. With Lars Henning-Jensen. 25 mins. Cert. U.

A boy wakes up to find that he’s alone in the world. A deserted, silent Copenhagen becomes his giant playground. He drives a fire engine very fast, and flies a plane to the moon. Adapting a famous novel, Astrid Henning-Jensen, one of the greatest directors of children, makes an all-time classic of charm and wonder.

Featured article: Neil McGlone on Palle Alone in the World

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1978. 10 mins. Cert U.

Herz Frank’s seminal short film has to be seen on the big screen. Storms of emotion sweep across a child’s face as he watches a show that we never see. Ten minutes last a small lifetime, and tell us everything about why children are so mesmerized by cinema, and why cinema is so mesmerized by children.

Featured article: Neil McGlone on Ten Minutes Older

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1977. With Herion Mustafaraj. 78 mins. Cert. tbc.

When the Nazis occupy an Albanian village after the withdrawal of the Italian army from WW2, Tomka and his gang are furious – because the Germans set up camp on their football pitch. The local partisans recruit the boys to spy on the invaders, and help to set an ambush. Who knew war could be this much fun? Albania’s greatest female director Xhanfise Keko spins a classic boys’ own adventure yarn, but in a style as raw and authentic as anything from the Italian neo-realists. Never before seen in the UK, freshly restored, this is a rare discovery.

Featured article: Thomas Logoreci on on Tomka and His Friends

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1997. 53 mins. Cert. tbc.

At a blind school in the Czech Republic, the children exuberantly show off their remarkable talents – as musicians, as radio announcers, as daredevil bike riders and, most extraordinary of all, as photographers. Why take pictures of a world you can’t see? To capture memories, of course, that sighted people can describe back to them. Miroslav Janek’s documentary is a true eye-opener about the resilience, adaptability and creativity of children, faced with whatever challenge the world throws at them.

Featured article: Karel Och on the Unseen

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1995. With Aida Mohammadkhani. 81 mins. Cert. U.

A masterpiece about a little girl who won’t take no for an answer. Razieh wants a new goldfish to celebrate the Iranian New Year, even though she’s already got several. But tricking her mum into giving her the money is just the start of her adventure. What’s a white balloon got to do with it? You’ll have to wait to the end to find out. Utterly real, quietly hilarious, totally brilliant. Jafar Jafar Panahi became the first Iranian filmmaker to win a major prize at Cannes when “The White Balloon” was awarded the Camera d’Or in 1995. In 2010, the Iranian authorities sentenced him to six years for subversion, though he has yet to be sent to jail, and banned [...]

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1999. With Hadi Alipour. 77 mins. Cert. tbc.

A school window is broken, and kids can’t concentrate because the rain is getting in. The culprit isn’t allowed back into class until he mends it. So he carries a large pane of glass by hand across the countryside in a gale. The wind blows; but will he crack? In the hands of writer Abbas Kiarostami and director Mohammad Ali Talebi, this simplest of stories becomes an epic quest, poetic and breathtakingly beautiful. It has big-hearted humanism, but Hitchcockian tension too. An edge-of-seat masterpiece. Unmissable.

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Just watched Willow And Wind, part of the @markcousinsfilm “Children and Film” season: what a deeply strange, remarkable film

— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) March 26, 2014

A beautiful, compelling, mesmerising poetic metaphor for a country’s strength and resistance – Talebi’s WILLOW AND WIND (1999)

— Neil McGlone (@NeilMcGFilm) April 11, 2014


Featured article: Ehsan Khoshbakht on Willow and Wind

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2013. 106 mins. Cert. PG.

A Story of Children and Film is the world’s first movie about kids in global cinema. It’s passionate, poetic, portrait of the adventure of childhood: its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness: as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries. A story of children and film is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.

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The Guardian review

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