A Dozen Summers: The magic of childhood
by Naman Ramachandran
- Kenton Hall’s new movie is a gem of a film that captures the magic of childhood and will delight both children and adults in equal measure
“Nothing lingers as long, or as powerfully, in the memory as the things we see in childhood. There’s an inherent responsibility to make something good, above and beyond your own artistic ego, which is scary. I like scary,” says Kenton Hall (Father to Fall), the British-Canadian writer, producer, actor and director of A Dozen Summers [+see also:
film profile]. Set in and around the multicultural British city of Leicester, the film begins on an innocuous enough note with the dulcet tones of Colin Baker (Doctor Who, and soon to be seen as Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol) as he begins narrating what appears to be a traditional children’s film. His narrative is rudely interrupted when he comes across a feisty pair of 12-year-old twins Maisie and Daisy (played by Hall’s daughters, Scarlet and Hero). They begin by telling him off for filming underage children on a school playground and then, in a smart meta move, they hijack the narrative. This is a film, so anything can happen, and the girls edit the film and move from scenario to scenario with a snap of their fingers.
The idea the girls have is to make a movie about their lives, populated with the people they know. So we are introduced to the school bully, Jennifer, brilliantly cast against type and played beautifully by the angelic Holly Jacobson; the girls’ stay-at-home author father (Hall), who is separated from their model mother, Jacqueline (Sarah Warren), and her plethora of boyfriends who range from crashing bores to hopeless musicians to eco warriors to investment bankers; and the girls’ array of schoolmates and teachers. As the girls set about making the film within the film, we are treated to a range of social issues in a most entertaining manner.
Hall’s crowning achievement is to make the audience believe that the film is really made by a pair of 12-year-olds. Rarely in cinema has any film given such insight into the complex world inhabited by children from a children’s point of view. En route, we take a look at the complex world of parenting, a passionate plea for gay equality, the hazards of marriage, the perils of teaching, interracial romance, and even a delightful take on the inherent rudeness that British cornershops display towards schoolchildren. Hall manages to convey all of these without being sanctimonious. A Dozen Summers is that rarity, a film about children that captures the magic of childhood, seemingly by children, that will equally delight both children and adults. Given the themes the film tackles, it must be made required viewing at school auditoria across the world.
The film is co-produced by Alexzandra Jackson and is a Monkey Basket Films and Poppy Jack Productions presentation in association with Hathi Productions and Seven/Five Productions. Ballpark Film Distributors will release the movie in the UK on 21 August.