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What to know: Explores serious social issues - poverty, ills of war - from a child's point of view and the universal concept of friendship.
GIRL AT THE END OF THE GARDEN, THE is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 8-18
6 minutes
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Lucy, a young unhappy girl lives with her single mother who cannot afford to purchase a tablet device she desperately desires. However, a chance encounter in her back garden, with a young refugee camp runaway possessing psychic powers, changes her life. Children do not want to have to figure out how to generate income. They prefer a world where things are simple, where they are happy and all their needs are met. This film captures the essence of a child's wide imagination. I like that the story explores serious social issues, such as poverty and the ills of war through themes such as man against society, from a child's point of view and the universal concept of friendship.

This film has great cinematography! The camera angles effectively move the story along, without being on the nose. The dreary Irish weather and the night scenes are very believable. I like the gray skies, which are characteristic of Ireland's weather. The scene of Lucy in the garden at night and of Zed when the door opens work effectively to build tension. The costumes suit the story and work well.

The background music and sound effects certainly drive the plot forward. At one point when Lucy sees Zed in her garden at night, the music rises, builds tension and comes to a climax when Lucy finds Zed hiding in the shed. In another scene when Lucy's mum comes home early and Zed falls as he attempts to escape, the music builds tension as Lucy has successfully switched places with Zed when the blanket is pulled back.

There are no grand special effects that stand out, except for the magic tricks, which fooled me initially. The most believable characters are Lucy, Zed and Lucy's mother. They very much own their roles. Lucy reminds me of a young Dakota Fanning, endearing yet feisty. The interplay between the two children is very convincing. My favorite scene is the ending one when the two families are united because of the chance meeting between the two children.

The message is about how our differences really do connect us. You should know that it does show kids doing risk y things, that other kids might imitate. I have to say that it heightened my interest in conspiracy theories.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It validates children and youth in their views about life. It's educational in that Lucy, who could have been prejudiced against a black kid who appears even needier than her, isn't. She simply sees another human being, just like her. I think this would make a great addition to a youth or family film festival.

Reviewed by Frances B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

A slapstick comedy about an unhappy young girl whose life is turned upside-down when she finds a mysterious runaway with psychic powers in her back garden.
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