Jonathan Melville: Cousins looks at role of children in film

Mark Cousins Picture: Jane Barlow
Mark Cousins Picture: Jane Barlow
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EDINBURGH-based filmmaker, Mark Cousins, is back in cinemas this week with his latest documentary, A Story Of Children And Film.

It’s a unique take on world cinema from someone who, rather than simply watching films, wants to understand them and squeeze as much goodness out of them as possible.

Cousins takes an experience with his young niece and nephew as the jumping off point for the film. He watched them play on the floor of his Edinburgh flat and, seeing the various emotions they went through while playing, he decided to look more closely at how children have been portrayed on celluloid.

The result is a docu-mentary which covers 53 different films from around the globe and through the decades, each one featuring children as part of its narrative. That doesn’t mean the films are necessarily for children, just that childhood is a key element.

Most of us have seen ET: The Extra Terrestrial, but perhaps few of us have seen Kiseye Berendj’s Bag of Rice or Hiroshi Shimizu’s Children In The Wind. Cousins suggests that this is something we need to put right, offering insight into the work of the filmmakers who brought them to the screen.

The Filmhouse is developing the themes of the documentary with a season of films championed by Cousins. Over the next few weeks there’s a chance to watch some rarely-screened films, though you’ll have to be quick as most of them are only being shown a couple of times.

A few of them will also be available on the cinema’s website in the coming weeks.

There’s also a rare chance to see Mohammad-Ali Talebi in person at Filmhouse next Tuesday, April 15, as he introduces his 1999 film, Willow And Wind, to launch the season.