BFF 2017 Curator’s Notes – “When We Were Young”
That tired axiom “Youth is wasted on the young” has become especially bitter in a culture that obsesses over youth, fetishizing its vitality, mocking its ignorance, coveting its beauty. Children are not stupid; they know intuitively that all of this is happening, even if they can’t always pinpoint it or express it.
In the films of the When We Were Young, the young protagonists learn a lot of tough lessons…much more than their adult counterparts learn, or could even understand. The latter have not just forgotten what it’s like to be young. They have become dogmatic about their way of being, forgetting that there are many paths open to us, and the young are seeing these paths with a clarity that is at turns terrifying and exciting.
The series begins fittingly with a satire in which the adults have never really grown up at all, and its up to some savvy kids to turn things around. It is followed by a number of coming of age tales, which include the buddings of love (The Chicken of Wuzuh and Star David), brushes with death (Addy), and a general lack of understanding and love (Pequenos Animais Sem Dono and PET).
The final few films put the focus on adults with a complex relationship with their youthful past. One is reliving it (Memories of You), others are confronting it uncomfortably and facing the truth of what they have become (Carta Boca Abajo), and in the case of the final film, Popoff, they are recapturing childhood dreams. It’s perfect bookend to the series, showing that even when we have come to see ourselves a certain way, there is always the chance for a change, and the opportunity and courage to make that change often comes through art and—in Popoff’s case—film, fittingly enough
Films in this series
- L’âge de raison (The Age of Reason)
- Pequenos Animais Sem Dono (Stray Animals)
- The Chicken of Wuzuh
- Star David
- Memories of You
- Carta boca abajo (Cards Facing Down)