Do we have to make everything into a film?

I attended a session on the "Dark Side of Film" this evening and was rather shocked to hear that two of the films, "Gardens of the Night" and "Ezra" were rather violent and involved children as actors. "Gardens of the Night" is about two children abducted and kept as sex slaves for over 9 years and them coping with who they have become after this time. "Ezra" is about child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

I asked the film makers how old the children were, how they managed to get them to act these scenes, and whether they offered any psychological assistance for the children.

Newton I. Aduaka, the director of "Ezra", responded by saying that he had had a psychologist working with him since he began casting, and that the 8-10 year old children in the film actually were child soldiers and that they spoke with them at length about what was being asked of them.

Damian Harris was rather flippant and had an answer that completely shocked me: he told his 8-year-old leading lady completely different stories about the scenes she was acting in (in collaboration with her parents) in order to get her to act accordingly. He gave the example of telling her that she had just lost her mom in the airport and didn't know how to get to the gate on time.

I replied: She will hate you when she gets older.

I find it ethically appalling to be lying to the child to get it to act accordingly - when she is older (and she will have to be to legally see the film, which is not rated yet but surely will be over-16, if not over-18) she will surely discover the truth and very well may be angry at this betrayal.

An Australian journalist collared me in the foyer after the discussion to continue to talk about the point. He did not find anything wrong with this, actually, he felt it was censure to "forbid" using children like this in films. I objected to the use of am 8-year-old child as an object, not considering that it will be getting older and may have its own views about what it did. Even with the parents approval, this could very well be the parents trying to make a star out of their child.

Do we really have to make everything into a film? I only saw a short take of each of these films, a journalist staying with me saw the "Gardens" film and found it to be very voyeuristic. Who was the target group for this films, pedophiles? Even if there was no nudity or sex scenes depicted, much is suggested using editing techniques.

I asked my resident 16-year-old what he thought of this (he had acting lessons when he was younger), he said that he would be very pissed to find out now that they had been lying to him in the past, he would be embarrassed to be in a film like that.

Looking up the girl actor on the IMDB I see that she has been in movies and TV since she was four, she also has a younger brother who is in films. This is clearly not her decision, but the decision of her parents to expose her to this.

The journalist noted that the actress was only one child, and there are surely many more affected by the film. I don't quite see the logic of "sacrificing one to help many". That usually goes down badly with the sacrifical lamb.

Are there some things that just don't need to be explored on film? Or do we just accept everything?

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