Programmes 1 and 2 (Border Crossing and Schule Daze)
Directed by Les Wilson. Produced by Erina Rayner.
Grades 5 - 9 / Ages 10 - 14.
ACCORDING TO THE STAFF at T.H.A. Media, this video was made to "promote European awareness." To accomplish this goal, the makers interviewed young Europeans from seven countries. The two programmes contained on this video deal primarily with border crossings and school life, but other unrelated issues are discussed as well. The material is current, and recent changes in Europe are acknowledged (such as the division of Czechoslovakia into two republics). As well, the Europeans in this video look modern and discuss topical issues, which will appeal to a North American audience.
Young Europeans are the focus of this video and interviews with these "kids" appear unscripted. At several points the kids interviewed start laughing, but these minor gaffes create a more authentic piece. In one section students are asked to name which countries comprise Europe, and one youth lists the United States. Though this segment will likely draw laughs from young North Americans, such comments will also demonstrate an affinity between them and their European counterparts.
The scope of this video is ambitious. The film-makers' attempt to interview kids from seven countries in only thirty minutes (!) results in a disjointed, rock-video like pacing. Though I initially found this style annoying and difficult, I suspect that young people would have no trouble with it. A more serious problem was the rolling text at the bottom of the screen, which moved too quickly to allow a viewer to take in both text and visuals.
The intended audience for Eurokids is children aged ten to fourteen, although many of the "Eurokids" interviewed are several years older than this. But since showing children who are younger than the target group can seem like condescending to the audience, this is probably a wise approach.
The vocabulary is appropriate for the age level and adult voices are rarely heard (one doesn't hear the interviewer asking questions). The makers of this video also recognize which incidents amuse kids, and inject some humour into the video. For instance, one "Eurokid" in an English class tells the teacher "I ate my dog," and another scene depicts a construction worker bent over with a big split in his pants (sure to get a laugh out of kids!).
Eurokids may give us only glimpses of what life for kids in Europe is like, but this is what the makers of the video set out to do. For instance, one segment shows a heavy rock band practicing in Berlin; another segment shows kids playing European football. The audience won't learn everything about Europe, but will know a bit more than they did about "Eurokids." Eurokids would be a good discussion starter for classes like social studies.
Though the technical quality is high, and Eurokids does provide young people with a light, fun look at contemporary European youth, this video is recommended with reservations. At $199.00 it's not essential, but would be an interesting supplement.
Recommended with reservations.
Theresa Yauk works in the Special Services Department at the Centennial library while pursuing a Masters degree in Library and Information Science. After watching this video, she would really LOVE to go to Europe, but being a student can't afford it. So if there are any generous benefactors out there with an extra few thousand dollars floating around. . .
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