A Story of Children and Film
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    A Story of Children and Film

    Directed by

    United Kingdom


    101 min

    • English


    Cannes IFF - Cannes Classics Toronto IFF - TIFF Docs

    A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is a personal and poetic essay by Mark Cousins which explores what cinema tells us about childhood, and what childhood tells us about cinema, by reference to movies from all around the world. A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is the world’s first movie about kids in global cinema. It’s passionate, poetic, portrait of the adventure of childhood : its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness: as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries. It is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.



    Mark Cousins
    Timo Langer

    Director's Statement

    My niece and nephew, Laura and Ben, visited me in Edinburgh, in Scotland, and so I filmed them. One shot, 12 minutes. No camera moves. I don’t much like camera moves. Then I started chatting to people about making a film about kids and cinema. I’ve been interested in kids for a while. The first thing I ever directed for TV, in 1989, was about a kids’ festival in Glasgow. My first film for the big screen, The First Movie, was about kids and cinema. I co-set up a charity, Scottish Kids are Making movies, in the mid 90s. My work with Tilda Swinton, especially the 8 ½ Foundation, has often been for children. So I wrote an idea for a film about kids in movies. In a gap in the writing, I rewatched the footage of Ben and Laura, and realised that in the just one shot, they went through lots of the emotions of childhood – shyness, showing off, stroppiness, etc. This could be a way of structuring my film, I thought. Previously, I had made The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which was produced by John Archer of Hopscotch films. John and I had planned a film that would last perhaps, 4 ½ hours, or maybe 6 hours, but it grew to 930 minutes, 15 ½ hours. I knew that I didn’t want to make something huge like that about kids, and I didn’t want to make a straight history of kids in cinema. I needed a way of containing the subject, giving it a scale and, also, I hoped, a degree of richness or a poetics. The shot of Laura and Ben could provide this. Using it would allow me to look at kids through movies rather than directly at movies themselves. This is something like the opposite of The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Or, rather, it’s that film combined with The First Movie. I liked this thought, but was worried about it too, as I knew some people wouldn’t like it.

    Festival Bookings


    Mark Cousins's personal cine-essay about children on film is entirely distinctive, sometimes eccentric, always brilliant.

    Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

    Mark Cousins

    Mark Cousins

    United Kingdom

    Movies have broadened out. They started as a babbling brook and now they’re a big, wide river – and all over the world.

    Mark Cousins is a Northern Irish filmmaker, critic and programmer. He programmed the Edinburgh FF (1996-97), hosted BBC2’s MOVIEDROME (1997-2000) and SCENE BY SCENE (1999-2000). He is the author of "The Story of Film" and co-wrote "Imagining Reality: the Faber Book of Documentary" with Kevin Macdonald. In addition, he is the co-founder (with Tilda Swinton) of the 8½ Foundation which is a Scottish-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to introducing world cinema to children. His works include THE FIRST MOVIE, THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY (Stanley Kubrick Award from Michael Moore) and many more including 6 DESIRES: DH LAWRENCE AND SARDINIA, LIFE MAY BE, A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM, WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE?, HERE BE DRAGONS, I AM BELFAST, and more. Cousins curated a season of films for the Romanian Cultural Institute in London. In 2016 he made his debut as a fiction director with STOCKHOLM MY LOVE, which was released in the UK by the BFI. In 2017 he completed BIGGER THAN THE SHINING. His latest book, The Story of Looking, is about humankind's visual engagement with the world. That year he also completed the film THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES about the filmmaker's graphic art. At the start of 2018, he has just completed a 2 hour, four screen, commission for the Rotterdam Film Festival, Storm in My Heart, and is editing a 22 hour film, Eye Opener, which looks again at cinema, from the perspective of women directors.

    Selected Filmography