It’s the 1950s in small town America. A group of girls, sick of being hassled and harassed by the boys and men of the town, form a secret gang; Foxfire. Their initial goal is revenge on those who wrong them, but ultimately, it is freedom they seek. The story is told as an extended, narrated flashback by Maddy (Katie Coseni) who recorded their exploits at the time. She and the other girls were enthralled by the charisma and vision of Legs (Raven Adamson), prepared to follow her just about wherever she wanted to take them.
Right from the start, the film shows why such a rebellion is necessary for these girls. Alienated from ‘normal’ American life, these girls decide that if they are not going to be seen as acceptable, that they do not need to follow the paths normal for young ladies. There is some of the angst that I have found frustrating in other depictions of dissatisfied teenagers, however Foxfire has reasons for this angst, along with strong relationships and some sense of hope.
Foxfire screens at ACMI on Friday, August 9 at 11am and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 11 at 4pm. School bookings and teacher resources are available.
Valentine Road is a documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting in Oxnard, California. A fourteen-year-old gay student, Larry King, was shot by his classmate at school and died two days later. Larry King was from a broken family, living in a shelter for children who have been abused, and had just started to experiment with revealing his sexuality through his behaviour and dress. The day before the shooting, Larry had approached his attacker, Brandon McIrneny in front of a group of his friends, to ask him to be his Valentine. This perceived humiliation was more than Brandon was able to handle and he responded by bringing a gun to school the next day and shooting Larry.
Apart from being too long, with far too many extended shots of people (mostly teenagers) crying, it was an extremely interesting and well constructed film. It seems pretty open-and-shut – a kid shoots another kid and should be locked up. Gradually, though, we are given information about Brandon’s life and the society that these two boys grew up in that makes you question what punishment is appropriate and necessary. Whatever you do, do not expect this film to be uplifting and light-hearted. It is deeply sad and disturbing, and I felt little hope for the world after seeing it.
Valentine Road is part of the Next Gen program of MIFF 2013. School bookings are available and there is a free study companion provided by ACMI. It would be a very hard film to teach, but for a mature group of students, there is the potential for deep discussion and learning.
Valentine Road screens at ACMI on Friday, August 2nd at 11am and at Greater Union on Sunday, August 4th at 1:30pm. For tickets, visit MIFF