Monday, June 21, 2010

Sydney Film Festival: Babies

Impossibly endearing and entirely captivating, Babies is a near perfect documentary with the simplest of premises: what is it like to be a baby? Of course no one can really recall their first year on Earth, which is what makes what director Thomas Balmès’ wonderful journey all the more precious. Running with Alain Chabat’s original idea, Balmès and his crews traveled to a dusty rural village in Namibia, the striking steppes of Mongolia, bustling Tokyo and San Francisco to capture the lives of Ponijao, Bayar, Mari and Hattie (respectively) from birth to first steps.

Over 400 hours of superbly shot footage has been painstakingly pieced together to make this 79-minute wonder. And it is a testament to the entrancing qualities of little ‘uns in general that this time flies by without any need of narration or even subtitling of the doting parents. Indeed Bayar and his three female companions need no introduction, each making for hilarious tour guides as they discover how to make use of their disobedient limbs and make sense of the bright and beautiful world around them. From inquisitive felines to the delights of unraveling toilet paper and the frustrations of a toy yet to be mastered, Balmès and his babies sure know how to turn on the charm. And though the editing clearly juxtaposes the Western world of plenty to the more simple surroundings in Mongolia and Africa, it is striking to see just how similarly the four babies develop; each mischievous, vulnerable and sturdy in turn.

Published by Street Press Australia
Australian release date (theatrical): 5 May 2011

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