CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 6 . . . .November 9, 2007
Victoria King (Director & Writer). Geeta Sondhi, Victoria King & Annette Clarke (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2006.
47 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9106 306.
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Frank Loreto.
Twelve years ago, three women became mothers. Now their baby girls are becoming 13.
Becoming 13 looks at Jane, Jazmine and Avi, three girls who all live in St. John's, NL. While each is the same age, they show in microcosm what it means to be almost 13-years-old.
This is a delightful film. The girls are all friends and have very different home lives. However, each seems to be grounded and prepared for this venture into the teen years.
Made up of a series of interviews, the film shows the girls interviewing themselves, their mothers, and themselves with their mothers. They ask them what it was like when they were 13 and whether their parents more strict with them than they are with their own girls. There is genuine love between mothers and daughters, but these are not sickly sweet relationships.
Avi's mother admits that she has high expectations for her daughter: "If you can get 92%, why not 100%?" She tells Avi that her parents were much more strict with her than she is with Avi. An only child, Avi lives with her mother and grandparents. There has been no contact with her father. Of East Asian descent, Avi is expected to embrace her heritage and take part in cultural events. "It is important to know her identity,"says her mother.
Jazmine's mother also states that her parents were more strict with her. She laughingly says that Jazmine can get away with anything. Jazmine's father does not live with her, but they are constantly in contact over the phone, and they see each other regularly. However, Jazmine is shown calling him and having to leave messages several times. This is not an issue when they finally connect, but the fact that those scenes were included could generate some discussion in a class.
Jane wants to be an artist like her mother. She has attended private school since kindergarten. Her father lives at home but is often away for work.
While each family is very different, each mother says that the one wish for her daughter is that she will be happy. None of them claim to have all the answers and are willing to take time to talk to their daughters. The girls are open with their concerns and show great maturity in their discussions and then no maturity at all at the sleepover they all attend.
Becoming 13 should be required viewing for all mothers with daughters at this age. The film would be an excellent feature at a grade 8 or 9 parent orientation meeting. It would also be good for classes in Parenting and Sociology.
Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.
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