Banana is blessed with more self-belief than talent, and is missing goals both on and off the field. His parents are drifting apart; the girl he likes is out of his league; his older sister is marrying the wrong man; his teachers are either mean or indifferent; and worst of all his goal-kicking foot is shaped like an actual banana! In the face of obstacles like that it would be easy to just give up, like so many of the adults in his life, but Banana refuses to accept defeat.
Warm-hearted and funny, Banana is the feature film debut from Academy Award-nominated writer/director Andrea Jublin. A thoughtful comedy of innocence and experience with a wisdom that belies its youth, Banana is a winning testament to the fact that happiness isn’t measured in the success you find, but in the way that you try to find it.
Young artist Ma Liang lives in the picturesque Baihua (Hundred Flower) Village, where he enjoys a simple life. One day, a celestial being notices Ma Liang’s talent and gifts him a brush that magically brings to life whatever it paints. Delighted, Ma Liang dreams of being a hero, but soon learns that magic can have consequences. When a greedy imperial general invades the village, he learns about Ma Liang’s magic brush and becomes intent on gaining its power for himself.
The latest adaptation of the beloved Chinese fairytale Ma Liang and his Magic Brush, Zhi-xing Zhong’s film is a gorgeously animated adventure full of wild creativity. Produced in collaboration with Disney, and with a theme song by Hong Kong pop superstar and actor Jacky Cheung (Perhaps Love, MIFF 2006), it’s a fun and fantastical tale about the power of art and imagination.
On a whim, tight-knit teenage foursome Chie, Sattsun, Ichinose and Fumiko decide they absolutely have to attend a gig featuring their favourite band: real-life J-pop superstars Creephyp. The only problem is that the concert is in Tokyo, and they're in the rural town of Kita-Kyushu, half the country away. Undaunted, the girls jump on their bikes and start riding, unwittingly kick-starting a massive cross-country adventure.
Japanese filmmaker Daigo Matsui (Wonderful World End, MIFF 15) returns to the teen cinema screen with this defiantly teenage road movie. Anchored by relatable natural performances from the four leads, Our Huff and Puff Journey revels in the dream of freedom and the glow of youthful rebellion – a captivating story of the power of friendship and the strength we find when we stick together.
Like any other 15-year-old, Mara just wants to fit in with her peers, and find her place in life. But schoolyard bullies and a weird, embarrassing mum are soon the least of her problems, because Mara’s just learned that she’s a mystic seer; that the ancient legends are all true; and that the fate of the world rests on her shoulders.
With help from Nordic mythology professor Dr Reinhold Weissinger, Mara must travel through time and encounter characters and creatures from folktales and myths to defeat the fire giant Loge, and make sure nefarious trickster god Loki cannot bring about Ragnarok: the end of the world.
Mara and the Firebringer is the delightful feature film debut from writer/director and award-winning children’s TV creator Tommy Krappweis, adapted from his YA fantasy novel of the same name. Warm-hearted, funny and empowering, with a terrific performance from Lilian Prent in the title role, it’s a world away from the dystopian fare Hollywood currently serves adolescents.
Her parents and teachers think she’s a pain; the feeling is mutual. Her older sister has a diploma, her younger sister is an over-achiever, she’s repeating a year at school. Life is never boring for 13-year-old Aurore (newcomer Léna Magnien) – even if she's constantly wishing that her problems would simply go away. She could always fall in love or join a band – what could go wrong?
Adapting Marie Desplechin’s best-selling French-language YA novel series Le Journal D’aurore, director Émilie Deleuze (Mister V., MIFF 2004) invites us to share the often hilarious perspective of a ‘normal’ teenager and by doing so, demonstrates that there is no such thing as a ‘normal teenager’.
Recipient of a special mention in the Generation Kplus strand of the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.
When a shocking series of crimes rock a small town in China in 1991, detective Qu Zhicheng is placed on the case. As he tracks the perpetrator, his teenage daughter Su Xiaotong attempts her own sleuthing – a distraction from her adolescent angst, which her mother ignores and her father lectures her about.
Against the backdrop of insular communities, serial killers and sexual awakenings, writer/director Wang Yichun channels shades of Twin Peaks and Memories of Murder (MIFF 2004) as she delves into the restrictiveness and authoritarian nature of Chinese society. Drawing upon her own background, she offers an astute personal perspective on the gender inequality, generational differences, moral hypocrisy and double standards at the heart of her homeland.
“Insidious and gripping from beginning to end, the film announces a formidable talent with much to contribute to China’s burgeoning demand for cerebral genre films.” – Variety
When shy but lovable 13-year-old Benoît arrives in a new high school, it's as if he has to begin his life again from scratch. After trying and failing to make it with the cool kids, Benoît finds his lot thrown in with the school's resident outcasts. Bound by a love of bad jokes and ill-advised pranks, the reluctant friends make for an unlikely gang, but in the face of all that adolescence has to throw at them, having each other might just be enough.
Winner of the New Directors prize at San Sebastian, The New Kid is the very funny feature film debut from actor turned writer/director Rudi Rosenberg. With a knock-out cast of emerging young actors, it shines a charming new light on a familiar story, offering a sharply humorous take on the perils and pitfalls of surviving high school and the universal maxim that being cool isn't as important as being yourself.
When Adama's older brother leaves their West African village in the middle of the night, the 12-year-old is determined to find him. Defying his elders, Adama ventures beyond the forbidden cliffs, across combat-ravaged Europe and onto the battlefields of the First World War with the tenacity that comes from a sibling's bond, as well as an unwavering spirit of adventure.
Inspired by the real-life stories of West African men recruited to fight for French forces, Adama takes audiences on an energetic quest brimming with emotion, excitement and impressive technical artistry. In the hands of debut director Simon Rouby, the film's striking style of animation – bringing the story to life via a combination of painted 2D backgrounds and laser-scanned 3D clay sculptures – proves as much of a marvel as its thoughtful insights into an over-looked slice of history.
Winner of the Best of the Fest Award and the The Liv Ullmann Peace Prize at the 2015 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.