When the IDFA doc festival opens in Amsterdam on 14 November, two Danish short films will be ready to take the screen with their close-up portrayals of children’s lives.
Cathrine Marchen Asmussen’s 'My Faith: Jehovah’s Witness' and Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s 'Fantasy, Fantasy' have been selected as two of twelve titles for the IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs.
Already confirmed for IDFA is Janus Metz and Sine Plambech’s 'Heartbound'. The festival will be announcing more films for its programme over the next few weeks.
What does faith mean for children?
'My Faith: Jehovah’s Witness' is one of 12 films in a series by Cathrine Marchen Asmussen, with each film portraying a different child and his or her particular faith.
The film follows Natalie, who is 12 years old and a Jehovah’s Witness. Her uncle has died, and she misses him a lot. She believes Paradise will be restored on Earth, a new world where the dead will come back to life and people will have eternal life. Everyone who believes in Jehovah will be part of that world, and so Natalie goes door to door to get as many people on board as possible. When everyone has had a chance to believe in Jehovah, the new world will come and her beloved uncle will rise from the grave. It’s a comfort to know that she will see him again.
The series, which also looks at faiths such as the Wicca religion (witchcraft), the Pentecostal movement and Islam, aims to dismantle some of the prejudice that religious children face from the rest of society and, not least, make children curious about what faith means to these children, says Asmussen, a self-taught filmmaker who alongside her film production is a theology student at the University of Copenhagen.
Lise Saxtrup has produced the series for Klassefilm.
Bursting out of their bubble
Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s 'Fantasy, Fantasy' looks at the exclusion that children with autism can experience.
Filmed over three years, the documentary follows two twin girls, Molly and Smilla, from age 11 to 15. Because they have autism, the girls are not like other children and have to learn to live with the awareness that they are different. The film tracks them through crucial times, as they outgrow their shared, secure bubble and burst into the world as two strong, independent girls. The film ends when Molly takes the big step of leaving for boarding school.
Several other films by Astrup Schröder have been shown at IDFA over the years: 'The Invention of Dr. Nakamats' (2009), 'My Playground' (2010) and 'Big Time' (2017). The director has made a number of films and series focusing on children, including the feature-length documentary 'Waiting for The Sun' (2017).
'Fantasy, Fantasy', which premiered at CPH:DOX last March, is produced by Sara Stockmann for Sonntag Pictures.
'My Faith: Jehovah’s Witness' and 'Fantasy, Fantasy' are both produced with support from the Danish Film Institute and national broadcaster DR.
Danish children’s films at IDFA
Danish children’s documentaries have made their mark at IDFA over the years. For a comprehensive overview of Danish films at IDFA, click here.