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Mark UN International Youth Day with 5 films

Films

Did you know that today is International Youth Day? Every year, the United Nations highlights the experiences of the world’s brave, talented, and diverse young individuals. International Youth Day was inaugurated on December 17th, 1999 with support from the United Nations General Assembly and the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth.

But one day certainly isn’t enough to celebrate all that the world’s youth have to offer! Over on NFB.ca, we’ve got a whole week of fantastic youth-themed programming, including films that are great for kids and adults alike. Check out all about the films on offer in this post (and I won’t hesitate to let you know which ones are my personal recommendations).

Becoming 13 (Victoria King, 2006)

Of all the films we’re featuring on youth, this one’s my absolute favourite. Becoming 13 follows three Canadian 12-year-old girls through a whole year of their lives. In interviews with their families, friends, teachers, and the girls themselves, we learn all about what it’s like to experience adolescence in the early 21st century. Tongue piercing? Sure, why not?

The girls in Becoming 13 each have their own cultural and economic backgrounds, providing for a vast diversity of experiences. Avi, the daughter of an immigrant from India, is under considerably more pressure than her contemporaries to perform well in school, although it seems she integrates her straddling of Indian and Canadian society well into her personality.

Jane, the daughter of a textile artist, spends time in museums and contemplates what kind of artist she’d like to be, too. And Jazmine, the youngest of three siblings, maintains a fractured relationship with her mostly-absent father and plays on her school’s basketball team.

For women and girls everywhere, this film will be a simultaneously sweet and troubling reminder of what it’s like to turn 13. I, personally, was reading Anne Rice and painting my nails black at the time… what about you? What’s your fondest or most embarrassing memory of becoming 13?

Here and There (Diane Obomsawin, 2006)

This is another one that’s close to my heart, and will ring a bell for anyone who’s ever migrated to and fro during adolescence—I lived in 6 different places before I turned 13! In Here and There, we meet a semi-autobiographical version of the filmmaker herself, a pre-teen whose chaotic existence involves moving back and forth between continents.

Will there ever be a reward—perhaps wisdom, insight, or liberation—in this seemingly endless migration?

The unique aesthetic presented in Here and There is created from drawings on paper and digitized snippets of fabric to weave a textured, three-dimensional effect into the sprightly characters. This one’s a delight, and I encourage you to share it widely in your networks!

I’ll Find A Way (Beverley Shaffer, 1977)

Sound the trumpets! Hear ye, hear ye! This one’s an Oscar®-winner! Not to brag (OK, I’m bragging) but did you know that the NFB has won 12 Oscars® and snagged a whopping 72 nominations throughout our 75-year history? Yep, it’s nothing to sneeze at. You can take a tour of all our Oscas® films here.

But back to this charming little film: in it, you’ll meet Nadia, a nine-year-old girl with spina bifida, a disorder that affects the proper alignment and functioning of the spinal cord, resulting in physical disabilities like mobility problems. Nadia’s got a beautiful spirit and spunky attitude to match. Aware of the challenges posed by her disability, shell stop at nothing to make sure she does whatever she wants however she wants.

“You don’t just stare at the person,” says Nadia when giving advice on how to treat people with disabilities. “You just act normal, like you would with an ordinary kid.” She worries that she’ll be teased and bullied when she starts attending a new school, but when asked how she plans to deal with the adversity, this wise little girl simply shrugs, smiles, and says, “I’ll find a way.”

We know you will, Nadia. We know you will.

An Artist (Michèle Cournoyer, 1994)

In the vein of Cournoyer’s other work (Accordion, A Feather Tale), An Artist takes us to the very edge of non-verbal communication in an almost surrealistic manner. As curator Marco de Blois writes in his description of Cournoyer’s work, her films “are reminiscent of dreams, each unfolding as the uncontrolled expression of an often suppressed, secret, inner reality.”

In An Artist, a gifted young girl transforms her tiresome household chores into a musical fantasy until her father finally notices the hidden talent inside her.

(You may want to note that while An Artist is appropriate for all ages, some of Cournoyer’s other films deal with mature subject matter and viewer discretion is advised.)

Hannah’s Story (Juanita Peters, 2007)

As a five-year-old, Hannah Taylor wanted to know what the world was doing to help people who are homeless. She didn’t think it was enough, so this tiny crusader set out to change the way we think about homelessness. This is the story of a young girl’s determination to make her world a better place for homeless people.

Through Hannah’s Ladybug Foundation, the young activist has raised over a million dollars to provide adequate food and housing for street-involved people and to change the way we think and talk about homelessness in all levels of society.

Hannah is just one of the many kinds of youngsters being commemorated today on International Youth Day. Do you know a young person who is doing great things, living life to  the fullest, and inspiring those around them? Share this post as a comemmoration of all the young people who represent our planet’s future. To you, we say: “Hip, hip, hooray!”