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What to know: Plight of children caught in the circumstances of war.
SAMMY is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 13-18
14 minutes
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This film is about a world at war and people have to live underground to stay safe. The inhabitants exist on a barter system. The main characters are two children who try to build a hot air balloon so they can find their parents. The story is explained well in the voice over at the beginning, which made me immediately want to know more. I found the story engaging, but predictable. The ending is clever, because it leaves you wanting to know more. The story line is well thought out. The children working together to build a balloon to escape the war is new and interesting. The use of voice over with graphics at the outset of the film is clever and helps explain the story. The cinematography is very clear and the scenes for bartering look believable. The area where the children live is clear in both context and camera work. The characters' costumes are appropriate, with some unkempt nature due to their circumstances. The protagonist that runs the group is believable in demeanor, costume and dialogue. The whole film is based underground and certainly believable, from the sets. The main scene for bartering goods is set well including the background of goods the leader has. The children's home is well set and portrays the chaos you might expect from children living alone. The effects towards the end, of the approaching war, is believable and provides context without the need to overpower the scene. The music at the beginning helps create excitement and the music at the end definitely projects the sadness of the children's plight. There are some smoke effects close to the end, which are suitable for the story and not overpowering whilst still explaining the oncoming danger. The key characters are a boy and girl who are left alone due to the war and both actors play their roles well. The leader of the group is a very able actor and portrays both despair and humility clearly. I found the acting of what I consider the lieutenant to be very good and engaging for the role he portrays. This short film addresses the how the plight of children is often overlooked in war. You should know it has some nudity, inappropriate behavior, and shows kids doing risky things that other kids might imitate. There is one instance of lighting a cigarette and another of drinking alcohol. While integral to the story, the children leave with a stranger and engage in theft. It brings home the impact of war on children. I'm certain this will encourage conversation among families after viewing. Questions such as "what would you do in that situation" would be raised. Also the director's notes on how we view the plight of children in war torn areas made me revisit how I watch such news. The act of compassion in the barter scene when a girl needs medicine and, despite not really having enough goods to obtain the medicine, the leader relents and provides it. The director is an award winning director. I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. As a whole, it is well done and tells an interesting story that would very much engage families. I recommend this for a youth and family film festival, with a teen audience. It is unsuitable for younger children. Reviewed by Richard L., KIDS FIRST! Adult juror.
In a war torn Australia where survivors seek refuge underneath the ground, 10-year-old Sammy struggles to build a hot air balloon so she and her little brother Max can find their parents.
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