Oh, those kids! This phrase has loomed large over many a generation. However, what are they really like? How do they behave, what do they wear, what do they dream about; what do the teenagers of the 21st century really think? Do not search trendy teenager magazines for an answer. Just watch the first part of Teen Stories, a unique observational project mapping the chaotic jungle of adolescence.
Symbolically, there are seven; there is no doubt about their magnificence and bravery as they agreed to expose the sensitive years of their adolescence in front of the camera. Xavier, Melanie, Thys, Virginie, Jordann, Aurelie and Rachel. Each of them is different, however, they also have a lot in common. Besides living in the same city (Yverdon-les-Bains in the French speaking part of Switzerland), they go to the same school, have the same friends, are about twelve years old and thus all are on the threshold of the turbulent age of adolsecence; a “difficult time” as many a parent would sigh. What are the following years going to be like? How will they change them and what will they take away from them?
Held in the period of seven years from 2002 to 2008, the time-consuming shooting resulted in a series of four feature-length documentaries (in the French original, these would be called “novels” for a reason), capturing the individual stages of the protagonists’ coming of age in detail. However, the films do not only portray the protagonists but also their parents and thus the contemporary western society. The series is unique especially for its time span embraced by the creative tandem of Beatrice (director) and Nasser (producer) Bakhti. Nevertheless, what also makes the film impressive is the very theme of coming of age which gives the observational shooting an unusual dynamic. At what other time can one’s personality as well as physical appearance change so radically within seven years? At the beginning of part one, the protagonists are still children; at the end of part four, they are already adult.
However, the series explores not only the psychological aspects but also the sociological aspects of contemporary European society. The adolescents’ stories are mostly set in their homes. Gliding smoothly between the public and the intimate, the camera gives the spectators a unique possibility to see themselves in the way others live. The home interiors are much more telling than one would tell at first. Besides the social status of the families, they are also telling as to the division and transformation of family roles (e.g. moving to one’s own room as a confirmation of the new role of a “young lady”) as well as the functioning of today’s family (in this respect, it is typical for most of the protagonists that besides having a room of their own, they also share one with their father/mother).
In the course of the next four weeks, you can watch all of the four parts of the series at Dafilms.com and share the whole experience of coming of age with the likeable protagonists. On Monday, December 12, part one entitled “The End of Innocence” is launched, covering the first two years of the selected period and introducing the protagonists, their family background and their closest environment. At the age of twelve, Xavier, Melanie and the rest are still practically (nice) children, however, some of their characteristic traits are already emerging. Family still represents a home and a safe port to them; however, they are already getting distanced from the parents’ authority; with the parents still managing to stay on top of things. They speak about themselves, the world and their notion of adulthood which they will constantly reconsider and redefine in the course of the following four parts.
Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.