IDFA Review: Children of the Mist

Di playing with friends

In the developed world, we live in extremely privileged and (relatively) stable times. Despite the events of the last couple of years, we’re still experiencing the best standards of living mankind has ever seen. One of the major benefits of this has been the sanctity of childhood. While many may decry the impact of online culture on young minds, in the UK, at least, an education is protected until the age of 18. This is also the legal age for marriage (without parental consent).

This is not the case in all countries, and even when it is that doesn’t automatically mean everyone abides by those laws. While metropolitan areas might be moving towards a more progressive society, that’s not necessarily the case in the countryside. Take Vietnam, for example. The legal age for marriage is twenty and eighteen for men and women, respectively. However, as Children of the Mist demonstrates, this means little in practice.

Children of the Mist follows Di, a lively and bright twelve-year-old, over a three-year period. She is torn between the traditions of the Hmong in the mountains of northern Vietnam and the progressive values she’s taught in school. Filmmaker Diem Ha Le creates an empathetic and moving portrait of a fractured childhood caught in this flux. Given the very difficult circumstances and her personal relationship with Di, Children of the Mist is a beautifully handled film. One which highlights a major social problem and hopes for change.

Children of the Mist screens at International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam.

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