The Young and the Restless By Carlos Heli de Almeida

in 35th Rotterdam International Film Festival

by Carlos Heli

Is there a place for the young people’s dilemmas in today’s globalized cinema? Most of the filmmakers invited to show their works in Rotterdam’s main competition seems to answer yes to the question. And, in many cases, they share the same doubts, angst and points of view.

The new economic order forms the background for at least two titles: the Polish production Ode To Joy (Oda Doradosci), by Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa and Maciej Migas, and the Chinese Walking On The Wild Side (Lai Xiao Zi), by Han Jie. A third one, Early In The Morning (Un Matin Bonne Heure), from Guinea, by Gahite’ Fofana, blames Europe for the chaos in the African continent.

Although narrated in a more conventional way, the three-episode story developed by the Polish trio reveals a sad phenomenon in today’s Poland: the new member of the European Community is pulling its young contingent across its borders. The lack of prospects in a state in which the capitalist system is falling apart makes Aga, a 26-years old daughter of a blue-collar man, Peras a rapper who seeks redemption in his music, and Wiktor, a clerk who has recently finished his studies in Germany, to get on board a coach to London, their ‘promised land.’

Going abroad is not a final answer to the hopes of the young characters of Walking On The Wild Side. Set against the fading color landscapes of a countryside town in a industrialized region of the country, the film by Han Jie offers a grey display of the New China, populated by bullying teenagers and young gangsters. They are marginalized people unable to get their share of the booming Chinese economy.

There is a sense of disappointment behind the blurry digital images captured by Han Jie, which explores not necessarily the consequences of the China’s opening to capitalism, but the absence of the tradition and the power of the state during this long-term transition to the new economic order.

Early In The Morning, claims for extreme measures in order to reverse the hopeless situation in poverty-stricken Africa. Fofana’s film dramatizes the events that lead to the tragic destiny of Yaguine Koita and Fode Tounkara. The bodies of the two Guinean teenagers were found in the landing gear of a Sabena airplane on 2nd August 1999. With them was found a letter addressed to the authorities of Europe, in which the boys request “do not forget that it is to you that we have to complain about the weakness of our country”.

Yaguine and Fode lived in a city without good schools or good entertainment for the young population. During the holiday season, the two friends decide to look for work in order to help their poor parents. They don’t find any. The constant disappointments lead them to take a extreme decision: flee to Europe and, in case of a failure, the tragedy would be another desperate cry for help for their continent.

Although shot in different styles, the three films seem to send the same message to the world: “Take care of your children”.