Sounds Like Teen Spirit

It’s Mini-Eurovision. Be afraid!

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SOUNDS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
DIRECTED BY: Jamie J Johnson
STARRING: Marina Baltadzi, Giorgios Ioannides, Mariam Romelashvili


***

The Eurovision Song Contest has been a camp joke for so long that the prospect of a documentary about the junior version, in which 10-15 year old represent their countries, is not enticing. And there are signs, around the edges of Jamie J Johnson’s “popumentary”, that the director (whose previously documented the world of miniature golf) packed his Euro-passport in the spirit of Louis Theroux, hoping to make fun without appearing to mock.

But, oddly, that’s not what happens. Instead, the children dominate the film, and their openness and enthusiasm overwhelm any latent cynicism. Johnson should have ditched the animated sequence about the history of European warfare, but when he lets Cypriot balladeer Giorgios (10) and Georgian Mariam (13) do the talking, he taps into the sweet ambition of youth. Mariam doesn’t win, but becomes a national hero in Georgia, where these things matter. The music, of course, is routinely terrible, apart from the precocious Belgian, Bab (13), who has real star quality, and – obviously – fails to make the final.

ALASTAIR McKAY

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