Posted by: greercn | October 13, 2010

The First Movie

I may argue with the misleading and wrong title of this until I am blue in the face. But Mark Cousins has brought out an astonishing achievement here, in a documentary that sparkles with charm.

The idea is simple. He gives Flip cameras to three children in an isolated village. But the village is in Iraq and miles from anywhere.

This could all have been dull and worthy and Guardian-reading pap along lines of political orthodoxy. Instead, it hums with colour, much of which is Celtic and Northern Irish and magnificent.

It turns out the kids are magical. Yes, they have their stories of having relatives gassed and poisoned by Saddam and yes, they lack toys.

But Mark and his people – oh, I am so proud to be Canadian because so many of his believers are Canadian too – lift this to a level beyond time and space to the realm of pure imagination and happiness.

Mark shows them iconic movies and they respond. They make their own movies and it is all wonderful. Nothing here bores and even the “life during wartime” stuff shifts the story forwards.

The makers of this may not have heard of the War Measures Act 1970 and the profound effects on Canadians of that dreadful time, with the army out in the streets of Montreal and the justice minister being killed by extremist Quebec nationalists. They ended the life of Pierre Laporte but set their British hostage, James Cross,  free to retirement in Sussex. He is wheeled out on anniversaries to comment on his captivity.

That time has a strong influence on this movie.

It was shown as part of the Stratford Picture House documentary season and the small audience all seemed to appreciate that this is something very special in film.

Balloons, mud and extremism play equal parts. It says something special about childhood, war, Northern Ireland and creativity. But is also says something about being a Celt. As a Celt, with a proud French and Quebec history, there is real magic here. See this. Its 76 minutes will fill you with joy.

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