Melbourne 2015: Next Gen Program Offers Thoughtful, Hopeful And Diverse Learning Experiences

Editor; Australia (@Kwenton)
Melbourne 2015: Next Gen Program Offers Thoughtful, Hopeful And Diverse Learning Experiences
Details have emerged regarding the full slate of films from the Melbourne International Film Festival's progressive Next Gen program. 

This film selection is aimed at varying youth groups and encourages teacher participation and curriculum. Each film has specific learning objectives about sexual politics, discrimination, empowerment and a whole raft of vital messages. Here are the eight films with school bookings in mind, including one of my favorites from last year, the Taiwanese murder mystery Partners In Crime.

Being 14 (France); An uncensored look at the lives of three 14-year-old girls navigating friendships, sex, partying, bullying and shaming. Actress turned writer/director Hélène Zimmer takes a no-holds-barred look at the reality of middle-class, suburban adolescence.

Gayby Baby (Australia); Four 10- to 12-year olds each cope with growing up as they navigate school, friends and their futures, they do so within loving homes with caring parents - who happen to be gay or lesbian. Inspired by her own upbringing in a household with two mothers, the director crafts an intimate portrait of childhood, showing the complexity that colors these four families far beyond the issue of sexual orientation.

Mateo (Colombia); Community and art are at the forefront of this film about 16-year-old Mateo, an at-risk youth who juggles the pressures of school, soccer practice and his job as a debt collector for his crooked loan shark uncle. Mateo is threatened with expulsion - unless he joins the after-school theater troupe. There he begins to discover a new sense of purpose, but his increasingly dangerous uncle won't let him escape so easily.

Spartacus & Cassandra (France); this tough documentary follows thirteen-year-old Spartacus and his ten-year-old sister Cassandra. They grew up begging on the streets. To their needy parents, they're the caregivers, shouldering too much responsibility. Then 21-year-old trapeze artist Camille takes them in, offering a glimpse of a different life. The siblings are forced to choose between the family they love and the possibility of a brighter future.

Partners In Crime (Taiwan); When three boys stumble across the body of a fellow student, whose death is swiftly ruled a suicide, they suspect something more sinister. The boys start their own investigation into her history, blaming bullying and plotting revenge. This film blew me away at Busan last year, I highly recommend it for all ages, check my review here.

Wonderful World End (Japan); Meet Shiori, a Gothic-Lolita cosplayer who twitcasts for her burgeoning legion of fans - and her intense friendship with shy 13-year-old runaway Ayumi. Directed by Daigo Matsui and originating from music videos he directed, the explosively visual film follows the girls as they dream of making it big.

Me Romantic Romani (Italy); Gioia has just turned 18 and according to her Romani parents it's time for them to marry her off to a suitable boy. After auditioning for a commercial, she discovers a passion for cinema - in particular the films of Woody Allen - and becomes fixated with the idea of becoming a filmmaker. Unfortunately, her family has other ideas.

The Spiderwebhouse (Germany); When 12-year-old Jonas' mother leaves to "fight her demons", he steps up as head of the household. With food and money running out, the children retreat into a world of their own where, cloaked eerily in black-and-white. A tale of neglect that becomes increasingly dreamlike as the children slip further and further away from reality.

For more on the MIFF program for 2015, stick to ScreenAnarchy as more develops.
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