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Thursday, October 17

All the invisible children

What makes us invisible? The fact that others fail to take notice or our decision to wrap ourselves into less evident garment? Are we merely details of a bigger picture or simply too eager to be overlooked? Of all the unseen creatures walking the earth, children allow themselves to be ignored or veiled in a world that builds itself in gaudy, violent, vulgar, mean, shocking, short-lived images. This movie project is a bullhorn for all those innocent, torn, little hearts that glide past our grown-up world.

"The title says it all: ‘All the Invisible Children’; our aim is to bring ignored children’s issues into public awareness and consciousness, if nothing else, to make them more visible. Cinema, like music and other art forms, is a perfect medium to raise the bar of awareness, empathy, compassion and understanding. We all felt that this was an opportunity that needed to be seized. I am so glad we did, and I thank all our participants very sincerely.” confessed Chiara Tilesi, producer of the movie.

This is a portmanteau movie of seven short pictures tied by the same theme: child exploitation. Famous directors- Mehdi Charef, Emir Kusturica, Spike Lee, Katia Lund, Jordan & Ridley Scott, Stefano Veneruso, John Woo- joined their vision and empathy to render their painful message to the world: Stop ignoring the invisible children around you! From soldier children to little thieves, from scavengers to broken souls, this movie is about those kids deprived of normal, happy lives, victims of other adults or their own parents.

Childhood problems are shaped through the eyes of seven directors, some stories being more emotional than others. Poverty, disease, prejudice, abuse, exploitation are all depicted in the little glimpses into the unfortunate existences of children from Africa, Brazil, Yugoslavia, Japan and other places scattered all over the globe. Regardless of colour of the skin, race or age, all children are victim to adult exploitation and pain. Some of them will make it to mature life, others are bound to perish along the way; nevertheless, they are the future grown-ups that will shape the fate of other children and the face of humanity.

My favourite is TANZA directed by Mehdi Charef and set in Africa. During a civil war, children are as ruthless as adults; they don't go to school or play childhood games,; instead, they are forced to spill others' blood in the name of the country or misunderstood principles. Machine guns and bombs are their toys and they are good at killing without any remorse. Tanza is a little boy longing for playful school days, trapped in the body of an insensitive weaponlike creature. The futility of war and the tiredness that comes from the ceaseless running are beautifully portrayed in Tanza's taking off his shoes, head resting on a desk, in a classroom that brings back fond memories, bomb set off, future deleted. 

It takes great courage to shift from invisibility to being seen and valued. Resting in the shadow, repeating the same pattern feels more reassuring than any other alternative and children either never give up their habits or follow the same path. It takes courage to watch the film from the adult perspective and not feel somehow having turned a blind eye to the ugly truth around you. It takes more than courage to voice your shame and wonder how many little people you have turned invisible in less atrocious ways. Human lives, yours included, are worthed more than we are willing to grant them.

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