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I was sitting on the A train in NYC last week. As usual, it’s a wonderful place to closely observe people’s interactions without being noticed. A 10 year old boy was intently scrolling on a phone. His mother sat beside him, watching. I was on the other side of him. It became clear that he was seeking a movie to watch when they arrived home after soccer practice, from the looks of his t-shirt and shoes. “It’s PG” he said, hopefully. “Hmm, I see 16 or older”, she replied. More scrolling…. the Avengers. The Minions. And more scrolling…. No, no, no. He looks up the Common Sense Media site (I repeat – HE looked up the Common Sense Media site!) and explores recommendations for the movies suitable for a 10 year old New York City dwelling, soccer playing, still small enough to want his mother’s approval, adorably cute in a perfectly average way, boy. He seems dejected while scrolling down through the thumbnails – “seen it, no, boring, dumb, I think it’s for girls, no…  Mom, I don’t know”. “You could watch Minions again? Hmmmm?” …..

This exchange plays out over and over again in all sorts of American locales. I know what he was looking for, I think. Companionship. Someone like him, but not too much like him. A surprise. A problem he can solve. In all of his scrolling, not a single live action program, about real kids – funny, sad, thoughtful, surprising, amazing –  appeared. Not one. If only there was a theater for all children, with films made for laughing and crying and thinking and learning and feeling. Lots of them. From everywhere. About all kinds of kids. Relatable kids – not just the extraordinary or extreme; the super cute or super nerdy; the sassy or the smarty.

Welcome to “Kino Bambino”, a Screening Room for Children’s Docs  

old film theater

Today’s Feature:  “I Am A Girl!” by Susan Koenen. She’s one of my professional heroes (heroines?) I’d love to meet her. Her early work is very similar to my own.


If you liked “I am a Girl”, you might also find “How Ky Turned Into Niels” another Dutch documentary interesting as well


Some of the entire catalogue of IDFA Kids and Docs programs are available for streaming. This is a rich site to browse these Dutch (and co-produced) professionally produced docs for kids.

radio amina 2


Radio Amina: a film from Nigeria, made in coproduction with the CBBC.


The Children’s Mayor:


This film about a Dutch boy of Moroccan heritage  was featured at the TIFF festival, but good luck trying to stream it. Licensing frequently makes accessing international films impossible. Librarians, archivists, children’s television experts – can you help me?


L’Equip Petit. It’s subtitled! And delightful! I am happy to find this, I don’t see much doc coming out of France as a rule.


Safiya’s Summer.  safias summerElse von Driel, again from Holland, is another well known maker. This is a film from the series “Mensjes Rechten” (Children’s Rights). Docs like these help kids to empathize with new neighbors.  View the entire film here.  Here’s another beautiful film by Els Von Driel for “Just Kids” too:  “Guillaume’s Wondrous World” .

Sprinkles 4-Ever! When’s the last time you saw poor kids on TV in the US, especially poor kids treated as normal kids deserving of dignity?