1 — 7/6/2023
63rd International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
2. 5. 2023

TEENS SECTION: Landscape of Adolescence in the Zlín Film Competition for Teenagers

The adolescent landscape is full of unknown corners as well as beautiful sights. Our film protagonists navigate it with courage, curiosity and hope for a safe return home. This year's competitive showcase of feature films for teens and young adults is packed with powerful and memorable stories that will give teens a sense of empathy, belonging, and identifying with their own lives. You can watch the trailer here.

A total of 12 films in two sections will be shown at the Zlín Film Festival in their Czech premiere, and half of them are by debut directors. Among them is film legend, producer, director and screenwriter Véra Belmont. Her animated feature film My Father's Secret ranks alongside the director's other well-known films such as Red Kiss (1985) and Surviving with Wolves (2007).

This year's selection lacks films from the Asian continent, and instead turns its attention to Canada and the United States. After its world premiere at the BFI Flare Festival in London, Big Boys, a small film with a big heart by director Corey Sherman, heads to Zlín, where he has chosen to bring his own queer coming-of-age story to the screen, with an emphasis on today's notion of masculinity and positive acceptance of one's physical and mental identity. The film is dominated by the performance of the protagonist Isaac Krasner, who has a promising future ahead of him. Perhaps in his next film, Holland, Michigan, alongside Nicole Kidman and Gael García Bernal.

One of Canada's representatives in the youth competition is called I Like Movies, which is the basic premise of the life of teenage Lawrence, who is obsessed with the world of film. Lawrence's selfishness, volatility and almost pathological desire cause major fissures in his relationships. He sees the people around him as mere pawns on his journey to become a world-class filmmaker.  A brilliant script full of references to film classics, original characters and outstanding performances not only by Isaiah Lehtinen (The Good Doctor) and Percy Hynes White (Wednesday) make this indie movie a film festival favourite.

A very pleasant surprise in this section is the Finnish film In a Bubble, which takes us to frosty Finland to follow the trials and tribulations of 16-year-old Eveliina's coming-of-age. She has to deal not only with a family crisis, but also with her unexpected feelings for a classmate. This fresh family comedy has become one of the leading events of the Finnish film scene. Stella Leppikorpi, the lead actress, was awarded the Jussi Awards as Discovery of the Year for her performance.

The actors in the films in the competition section for teens aged 11 to 15 are certainly not walking through a rose garden. The girls in Sea Sparkle and Scrapper each deal with the death of their parents in their own way. What they have in common is the fantasy to which they turn in their endless grief. Both of these exceptional films are debuts in the field of feature film for Domien Huyghe and Charlotte Regan, and their sensitive approach to the subject guarantees a powerful emotional experience. This approach has been appreciated at the Berlin and Sundance festivals, which the films attended this year, and the British dramedy Scrapper even won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema section at the American festival.

Aside from the youth film Delegation, the theme of the Holocaust is also dealt with in the only representative of animated film My Father’s Secret, directed in a Belgian-French co-production by the aforementioned Véra Belmont. Based on Michel Kichka's autobiographical comic book The Things I Didn't Tell My Father, the film takes us into the post-war life of a Jewish family, where words like concentration camp or Auschwitz are not allowed to be spoken in front of the children.

An equally important theme of life choices and their resulting consequences is treated in the Swedish film Bullets, whose protagonist, teenager Abdel, is no angel, and he and his band of friends do not make the local police very happy. Things get serious when Abdel's potential is noticed by a local gang, who completely disrupt his plans to break out of the vicious circle he’s in. This realistic film, one of those that teenage viewers should not miss, won the Young Jury Award and the Church of Sweden Award at this year's BUFF International Film Festival in Malmö, Sweden.


List of Feature Films for the Juniors and Youth at the 63rd Zlín Film Festivalu 2023:

Junior Section:

Juniors (FRA, 2022, Hugo Thomas)

Sweet As (AUS, 2022, Jub Clerc)

Sea Sparkle (BEL/NLD, 2023, Domien Huyghe)

My Father´s Secret (BEL/FRA, 2022, Véra Belmont)

Scrapper (GBR, 2023, Charlotte Regan)

Bullets (SWE, 2023, Peter Pontikis)

Youth Section:

Big Boys (USA, 2022, Corey Sherman)

Delegation (POL/ISR/GER, 2023, Asaf Saban)

Forever (SWE, 2023, Anders Hazelius)

I Like Movies (CAN, 2022, Chandler Levack)

You Can Live Forever (CAN, 2022, Sarah Watts, Mark Slutsky)

Bubble (FIN, 2022, Aleksi Salmenperä)



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