Currently we are in our civic engagement unit which is a four week course on learning about how to be civically engaged in our own community, Chicago. This year’s focus is on making short films having to do with each of these four values; Autonomy, Accountability, Purpose, and Gratitude. We were split up into groups and each day this week all of the groups got the opportunity to attend the International Children’s Film Festival, organized by Facets, the largest festival of films for children in North America. My group has learned a lot about films and below is our first film critique thus far in the course.

The Turtle and The Nightingale by Gershon Hinkson is a movie marketed for children, but it is really a movie for everyone and anyone. Have you ever thought about the responsibility of a parent? What they owe to their child? Why, to quote Harry, a character from the story, “parents get to choose whether they care or not, but we don’t get to choose whether it hurts or not”?

This short film is the story of three boys, each of whom have their own issues at home. Harry is being abused by his father, which transfers into his aggressive behavior at school. Turtle, or Liam, is the new kid at school who recently suffered a loss, an event that his father is handling very poorly. Ricky is Liam’s friend at school who has been bullied by Harry in the past. This movie is incredibly powerful and moving, and there were many scenes that affected us deeply. Through these scenes we learn how children’s home environments can affect their lives outside. They can learn to be caring and empathetic, aggressive and violent, or, in the best of cases, friendly and accepting. After their violent interactions, Harry, Liam, and Ricky are able to step outside of the lives built for them by their parents, and begin fresh.

Everyone felt that the movie was very interesting and enjoyed watching it. The movie sent out a specific message explaining the quote mentioned above, “Why do parents get to choose whether they care or not, but we don’t get to choose whether it hurts or not?”. It gave the voice to those who sometimes don’t have any. It showed that, while these kids may love their parents, they don’t want to become them, and it gave us as viewers a glimpse into a world that 10 and 11 year olds are discovering they have control over. This movie was one of my personal favorites. It can connect with kids on many levels. It does a great job of showing how your home life can affect your social life. In the end it goes to show that every problem can be reversed and it’s never worth harming yourself.