________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 17 . . . . April 29, 2005


He Said/She Said. (My Brand New Life).

Benjamin Duffield (Director). Ina Fichman (La Fête Producer). Pierre Lapointe (NFB Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2003.
23 min., 33 sec., VHS, $99.95.
Order Number: C9104 040.

Grade 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Jane Bridle.

*** /4

He Said/She Said promises to give the inside scoop on what it's like to be a girl or a boy for a day. It introduces two Montreal "tweens," Meghan, a typical 12-year-old girl in Grade 7 and Michael, an average 13-year-old Grade 8 boy. This 23 minute video is part of "My Brand New Life," a 13 episode series launched in 2004, that aimed "to bring together young people from different backgrounds and invite them to switch lives".

     Meghan is a synchronized swimmer, and so Michael joins the swim team for a class. He quickly finds that synchro is much more difficult that it appears. Meghan dons full football gear and engages in a rough and tumble practice. The juxtaposition of the football and pool segments through skillful editing and use of music underscores the difference in the two male and female dominated sports.

     In preparation for the next challenge of attending a slumber party and campout, Meghan and Michael set off to shop, with their friends in tow, for a bag full of treats that they think would appeal to the opposite sex. That evening Meghan shows up at the backyard campout. The boys urge her to drink a can of pop and participate in a burping contest, and the results are genuinely humourous. Later, she gamely downs unidentified food stuffs in a "Fear Factor" taste test and earns the respect of the boys. When she presents her bag full of creepy crawly dime store purchases of what she thought would delight the boys, the only item that earns any recognition is the headlamp.

     Michael, on the other hand, undergoes a facial including a facemask complete with cucumber eye pads. His goody bag, which includes various beauty supplies, is warmly received with oohs! and ahhs! by the girls.

     In their video diaries, both Michael and Meghan admitted that they gained a great deal of respect for the opposite sex and found the role reversal harder than expected. One of Michael's pals confessed that "I wouldn't want to be a girl. My life is difficult enough." The switch promoted a sense of empathy and bonding between the girls and boys.

     He Said/ She Said would stimulate a lively discussion among junior high students about preconceived ideas and biases about boys and girls and promote a greater understanding of the opposite sex and gender issues. The liner notes include sample discussion topics and pre and post screening activities. Curriculum links to Social Studies, Health and Phys Ed are also recommended.

     This is a co-production of NFB and Les Productions La Fête in association with YTV Canada, Discovery Kids Canada and TFO. There is an interactive website www.mybrandnewlife.tv that provides background and learning materials to explore the themes and subjects in the series. The website includes extra videos, quizzes and surveys and allows viewers to share their thoughts about the program.


Jane Bridle is a Youth Services Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.