When you hear, “14-year-old boy,” you don’t exactly think, “Duh, documentary,” but hey, now, if Hot Docs isn’t about experimentation in documentary cinema, then what IS it about?
Dylan follows a kid named, well, Dylan, who’s 14, lives in Belfast, Ireland and speaks wickedly-fast in one of those accents you strain your ears (and if you’re me, you squint too, for whatever reason. Embarrassing) to understand (don’t worry, there are subtitles). Dylan scoots around town smoking cigarettes and talking about all sorts of things, from what he does each day—activities include “learn stuff” and “play Xbox”—to how he feels about his mother (he does not feel good about her). The director of the 27-minute film, Ania Winiarska, does a good job of letting Dylan take the story wherever he sees fit: whether it be in a park or in the streets or on some public stairs, spit included.
Stuck somewhere between boy and man (yes, that is a loose Britney Spears reference, so congratulations if you caught it), Dylan makes do the best he can for someone his age, unsure exactly what this life’s about and why he’s a part of it. Though the thick accents of him and his fellow Irishmen are frustrating at best, it twists itself into an endearing quality as Dylan follows older kids around and complains to his best friend about being jumped. It’s important to mention that life isn’t totally happy-go-lucky for this kid: not only does he fester a deep-seeded hatred for his mother, but he also has to deal with regular kid problems like brushing off bullying and trying to fit in.
All in all the film brings voice to the type of subject that so rarely gets handed the mic: the kid. It’s easy for us adults to think we know everything and that we have all of the insights. Dylan reminds us that children have thoughts, too, and that they’re valid; beyond that, though, they’re worthy of our attention.
Sunday, April 29 at 6:45pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox (Rush Only)
Tuesday, May 1 at 1:30pm, ROM Theatre. Buy tickets.
~ Sara Harowitz