Mare Capoeira

This is a short(ish) film about a young Brazilian boy's love of Capoeira - the martial art/song and dance that you've probably seen on Front Street during Harbour Nights.

Joao's obsessed with becoming a Capoeira master like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather etc, and practices every day - this film follows his journey to creating his first Capoeira song. Joao - or Mare as he is nicknamed in Capoeira due to his love of the sea - takes you through a brief history of the art form mentioning that it was descended from the first African settlers in Brazil, was at one time forbidden, and how Angolan Capoeira may have started as a mating contest in which the most impressive boys could compete for the girl.

Ironically, Mare meets his match in a younger girl, who is also related to a grandmaster and is known by the Capoeira nickname of 'Tatui', also for her love of practicing the art beach side. There's a lovely feel to this film that gives you a greater insight into the heart of Capoeira than a traditional documentary-style format would.

Captivating.

- Andrew Raine

Amal

A somewhat depressing short tale (17mins) of a 12-year-old girl in the Moroccan countryside who dreams of one day being a doctor.

She's lucky to have a school to go to, even if she does have to walk miles everyday just to reach it. The surrounding area has a dearth of jobs and none of her older sisters were sent to school - as their father points out, there are no jobs around for the education to be of use anyway.

Nevertheless, she marches in everyday with her less academically gifted brother and finds encouragement from a teacher who lends her a telescope. Her brief joy is shattered when she is pressured by a sister to give up her schooling in order to give a hand around the house and the light goes out on her dream.

You can't fault much about this movie, but it be warned that it's one of the more depressing offerings at this year's festival.

- Andrew Raine

Sahar: Before the Sun

This uplifting short is narrated by 18-year-old Sahar Adish, who fled Afghanistan with her family in 1996 to find safety in the United States.

It's a complex subject to cover when you've only got six minutes of film to play with, and the film's producers have done well in contrasting the turmoil facing Sahar's family when the Taliban took over Kabul with her now near fairytale existence in the U.S.

That said, fantastic though her story is, it almost seems a little too positive a message for something as inevitably tragic as war...particularly when Sahar almost gleefully contrasts her good fortune (she's on course for medical school) with the future she would have faced in her homeland...where presumably there are other Sahars blessed with far less rosey futures. I guess their stories wouldn't fit into the six minutes, but it still seems a glaring omission.

- Andrew Raine

Rapping at Fear

13-year-old Andres Tabares tells the story of his family being forced by militias to move off their farm in rural Columbia to Bogota. 'Chucky', as Andres, consoles himself with Capoeira, playing guitar and makes raps to highlight the problems facing his community. He wants to be a star - and to help his village in the process.

Rapping at Fear is very cleverly made, using animation, rap and a rap video format to get Chucky's message across in a punchy, interesting style that matches its flamboyant narrator perfectly.

- Andrew Raine

Ramp

Ramp is a film about two boys - Knut (11) and his friend Roger (12) who have just finished building a skateboard ramp. The big question is though - who's got the guts to be the first one to make the first 'drop' from the top of the ramp.

Enter Knut's younger brother, Jens (9), whom they bully into accepting the challenge. After a failed attempt, Jens goes home bruised and the two brothers get stuck into some traditional sibling squabbling with Jens poisoning his brother with washing up liquid and so on and so on. The question later becomes whether brotherly love will prevail when the stakes are raised. There's a moral to the story that any kid with a sibling should be able to appreciate.

- Andrew Raine