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Filmtage Augsburg `03

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Filmtage Augsburg 2003

17. Tage des unabhängigen Films/
Days of Independent Film:
24. November - 30. November 2003

Fokus: In America
A Boy`s Life
 

>> ZU SEHEN AM
Di, 25.11. - 20.00 Uhr im Savoy


Robert ist gerade erst 7 Jahre alt und doch scheint sein Leben fast schon vorbei. Seine Großmutter möchte ihn wegen seiner Verhaltensprobleme dauerhaft mit Medikamenten voll pumpen und seine Mutter, eine ehemalige (nun aber zahnlose) Schönheitskönigin, ist auch nicht gerade eine Hilfe. Erst langsam stellt sich heraus, warum Robert in der Schule ein netter und umgänglicher Schüler ist und daheim mit der Pistole auf seine Großmutter los geht. Über 2 Jahre beobachtet Regisseurin Rory Kennedy Robert und seine Familie und zeichnet das erschütternde Bild vom Zerfall des „amerikanischen Traumes“ und dem Missbrauch eines Kindes.

 

>> English

Meet Robert Oliver. He is 7 years old and has various personality and behavioural problems. He uses Ritalin and other drugs to control his illnesses. The only problem is that Robert may not actually be ill at all.

A Boy’s Life is a powerful study into matriarchal power, pain and loss. The documentary took two years to film and follows Robert, his family, his teachers and his therapist as they go through life in the tiny town of Eupora in Mississippi. Robert and his younger brother are cared for by their grandmother Anna Threadgill. Robert’s mother, Robanna Fason had Robert aged 16 after being raped. Robanna now lives alone in a trailer with a horde of dogs for company. Having once had high hopes of being a beauty queen she is grossly overweight, has no front teeth and suffers from pneumonia and depression. Initially we see Robert as a problem child. His apparent hyperactivity seems impossible to cope with and Anna seems to have an arduous task - she eerily relates how Robert has tried to commit suicide and has killed scores of cats and dogs.

As the story evolves it is clear Robert is not the only one in the family with problems. At school he behaves as normally as any other child and displays a keen intelligence. Yet Anna insists that he transforms when he leaves school. Robert displays no signs of physical abuse so Social Services are unable to act - mental abuse is extremely difficult to pin down. Robanna also displays the mental scars of her mother’s influence. She has extremely poor self-esteem and is unable and unwilling to reclaim her children.
Anna is hospitalised with severe bruising to her legs. She claims Robert kicked her black and blue in a fit of rage. In a session with his therapist, Dr. Virginia Fee, Robert has no recollection of doing anything. Anna says it is because the drugs have blanked his memory. As Anna is hospitalised Robert and Benji move in to Robanna’s trailer in one final attempt to shake off Anna’s influence.

Rory Kennedy’s fascinating film is compelling stuff. She strays away from embellishing anything and lets the words and images tell the story. It’s a wise move as this story is as touching and sad as anything Hollywood has produced recently. Kennedy has commented: “While the film strayed quite a bit from my initial vision, I think it is richer for it. With verité documentaries, you always want to feel you are a fly on the wall, not having much actions on the influences you film. But I don’t think it’s ever fully the case. I think we did have an impact on the situation.”

While Kennedy’s impact falls on the affirming side, she also provides much for modern America to consider. The poverty and naivety shown here is shocking. Insects routinely crawl around Anna’s house. Mouldy bread is left next to a half full ashtray. No-one seems to have a job. One scene where Anna tries to heal Robanna’s ills through the power of Christ is very disturbing. This is American life shown in microcosm and it’s more alarming than any reality TV programme trends you can dream of.




 

A Boy`s Life
Filmdaten

A Boy`s Life
USA 2003, 77 Min.
Regie: Rory Kennedy
Schnitt: Adam Zucker
Musik: Joel Goodman
Dokumentarfilm



A Boy`s Life
Pressedownload

Bild 1

Bild ist Eigentum und ©,®,™ des jeweiligen Filmverleihs.

 

13. Internationales Symposium Kino von Morgen Augsburg 22. Augsburger Kinderfilmfest 12. Kurzfilmwochenende Augsburg 17. tage des unabhängigen Films