The Perspective of Youth

in 14th Luxembourg City Film Festival

by Marco Lombardi

Most of the films of the Luxembourg City Film Festival official competition focused on children and teenagers, as festival programmers had decided that the 2024 edition should have a common theme, the youth. In fact, it’s not: those films are about childhood and adolescence by chance as if today’s cinema couldn’t tell any kind of story without considering a young person’s point of view, maybe because their sight on modern societies is the most sincere, that is reliable. Or, still perhaps, as grown-up people are out of words, as the world they have created would need new facts, instead of new words.

Four stories of Terrestrial Verses, the episodic film that we awarded, are about young people fighting against Iranian totalitarianism dullness: in an episode a little girl, dancing in front of the camera, can’t stand traditional dresses and has to try on a shop, as they inhibit her to move, that is (symbolically) her freedom; in another episode, a girl is accused by police to have uncovered her hair while driving, but she asserts it was his long-hair brother instead; and still, a girl, during a job interview, has to defend herself from not innocent questions put by her selector; finally, also the first episode about a father that is not allowed to give freely a name to her son for religious reasons is an ironical way to “welcome” a baby into our coercive world as if their parents didn’t have the right to educate him because that child is owned by the Iranian regime. Also The Seed of the Sacre Fig, by the Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, a film that just won the Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2024, faces the same subject, showing how young people have to be and to live how the Iranian regime wants.

Gasoline Rainbow is a plain tale about a group of just graduated boys and girls that make travel to see the Pacific Ocean as they were cowboys in the western, trying to overcome their “borders” to get, in fact, grown-up age without any damage (the film is catching just because you are always waiting for a drama that never happens, to stress our prejudices against young people). So, “different road movie” that doesn’t get the usual ending of the genre.

Milk tells the story of a young mother who, after having lost his son during childbirth, collects obsessively her milk to feed another newborn and, in fact, to deal with her meaningless loss. The story alludes to a mankind without a future, obsessed by the fear of feeding life, that is the future.

Hoard and It’s Raining in the House are about two girls that have to compensate for a parental lack, that is becoming adults without any reference point: in the first film a child has to grow up without her mother’s unique world, the only place in which she felt comfortable; the second film tells about a young girl’s mother kept in prison, so the daughter has to work and support her fragile and younger brother, pretending to be a mother. In the latter film, young people’s point of view replaces grown-up one not because it’s better, just because is totally missing.

Finally, Toll is a Brazilian film dealing with a mother who, to help her naïve and troublesome boy, makes a big mistake that obliges him to grow up faster, paying for his parents’ faults. This seems to be the only way to get hope in a new future, feeding his own identity instead of the one that adults have been trying to impose.

Marco Lombardi
Edited by Amber Wilkinson