The Role of Adolescents in the Family

in 30th Festroia International Film Festival

by Roberto Tirapelle

In the official selection of Festroia 2014, several films dealt with the role of teenagers in the family. The stories of these individual films provided food for thought, allowing us to explore both the evolution of the narrative structure and the technical approach used by the director in investigating adolescent-family relationships. These films, which we will examine below, may also be useful in education as a way of exploring sensations, perceptions, emotions and imagination; they could become a form of cineterapia, a model of health.

In the Danish film Someone You Love (En du elsker) by Pernille Fischer Christensen, we are introduced to an 11-year-old, Noa, who immediately encounters difficulties on meeting his grandfather Thomas Jacob, successful songwriter. A significant part of the script looks at the contrasts between the songwriter and his daughter, which have an impact on Noa. However, the singer and Noa manage to find a modus communicandi through music: a hint of understanding achieved through art that results in more and more meaningful solidarity, creating a shift in this truly non-conformist relationship. The director, to emphasize this development, focuses not only on music but actual instruments: the guitar, sound, the voice, the close-ups in which characters shout or whisper.

In the Dutch film Finn by Frans Weisz, violins and music express the desires and affections of nine-year-old Finn to his father. But here the director’s skills are well below those of Christensen’s. This is almost like a made-for-TV movie, which sets up very traditional expectations.

The Belgian film Marina, by Stijn Coninx, also makes use of music: accordion and vocals, folk songs, musical groups. An Italian family from Calabria immigrates to Belgium to work in the coal mines. The children are expected to follow in the footsteps of their father, but Rocco, the eldest son, objects. He wants to pursue his artistic side, contrary to the will of the parent. This is another tenacious rebel in a family, who will eventually persuade his father to change his mind. However, the clash between generations is not given enough depth by the script.

Similarly, Black  Diamonds (Diamantes negros), directed by Miguel Alcantud, is not a particularly tragic or effective film. The film focuses on the social and environmental conditions of membership, and struggles to identify the diversity of its protagonists. In Mali, many boys dream of playing football in Europe. Amadou and Moussa are discovered by a talent scout who takes them to Europe. These two characters will take different paths. The problem is that the characters are too narrowly focused, and the director does not value the basic principles of narrative.

A more complex film is the Austrian feature Cracks in Concrete (Risse im beton) by Umut Dag. This film expresses more fully the malaise of adolescents in families. In this film, set in the Wiener district where gangs, drugs, rape and sex coexist, there is a comparison between Ertan, a veteran released after a long term in jail, and his son Mikhail. They know very little of each other, and Mikhail is about to repeat his father’s mistakes. Although they do not share life goals, they seek a common solution to their problems. The issues of communication are positively represented via the close-ups and rough camera movements.

Finally, we see a certain amount of malice, surprise, redemption, racism and humor in the Finnish movie Heart of a Lion (Leijonasydan) by Dome Karukoski. All of these elements are balanced within the film. The story involves Teppo, the leader of a group of skinheads fighting for a so-called White Finland, the woman he falls in love with, and her African son Rhamadhani. We follow a series of events in this troubled, complicated family. The director is clearly a free spirit who is passionate about cinema, and he uses a peculiar but natural cinematic language.

A special mention is reserved for the Swedish film Sanctuary (Faro), directed by Edfeldt Fredrik, in which a father and daughter flee from the police and look for a place to live in freedom. This is another case of two people who are inseparable. Although they own nothing, they pursue their dreams, but it is only a matter of time before fate catches up with them. However, the characters’ loneliness does not quite harmonize with the director’s visions of the natural environment, so that the film does not leave much of an impression.

Edited by Lesley Chow