Friday, June 16, 2006

Whole New Thing

Imagine being 13 years old, the only child of two hippies. You've been home-schooled your entire life, and your family lives on a lake well outside the nearby small town. Almost your whole social context is your parents' friends and their potlucks. However, your scores on the standardized tests in math aren't up to par, so your parents decide to send you to public school.

That's the basic set-up of the plot. When Emerson, the 13-year-old central character, arrives at the school, he's immediately identified as different, just because his hair is long and he likes Shakespeare, but he's also becoming aware that he has sexual feelings for other males. He has a terrific crush on his literature teacher, played by Daniel McIvor, who also wrote the script. (McIvor also wrote and directed Wilby Wonderful, which screened in last year's festival.) Emerson pursues the teacher despite his efforts to maintain an appropriate professional distance.

Daniel McIvor has a real talent for filmmaking, and Aaron Webber, who plays Emerson, is an amazing find: at 16 (playing 13), he's a far better actor than most of the adults in most of the films in the festival. I can already tell you that this film is one of my favorites for this year's festival.

Whole New Thing, dir. Amnon Buchbinder, 2005 Canada, 92 min.

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