I went to see this film on Monday- the first time I’ve been to the cinema in a long, long time. Not since having children. And I went to see a film about children. Hmmm. A friend of mine had been alerted to the screening, which was at a local high school, by her child’s primary school, and a few of us went along. We were a solitary trio of mothers in an audience of educators, which was something of a pity as it’s one of those wee word of mouth films that should really be seen by everyone.
It’s a documentary by film maker David Bond, who was alarmed by how much time his two young children spent indoors and in front of screens. It was also spurred on by film-makers Green Lions and The National Trust, who were both exploring the idea of ‘nature deficit disorder’ in our children. In particular I loved the conversation David Bond had with one expert, who described how thousands upon thousands of Britons ‘see’ big wild cats in the countryside every year. Sad to say it, but there are no big cats. We would have found them by now, he explained: they poo, they have dens and scratch posts. Even the most elusive big cat in the world, the snow leopard, which lives in some of the most difficult and remote terrain, can be tracked. So why do we see big, wild, black, puma-like cats? Because, this guy believed, we lack the risk and challenge nature provides in our day to day lives. David was thrilled: he was trying to market a product so good people hallucinate about it!
David is not afraid to play the fool and did so to great effect. Think dressing up as a squirrel and trying to climb a tree. The film was very funny, and very slick- they pulled in a team of 60 ‘creatives’ who have fuelled the movement with some lovely graphics and ideas.
It had its drawbacks: there was a really dichotomous emphasis on technology=bad, nature=good. His thinking kids on the Scottish isle of Eigg would be living in some glorious, internet-free natural paradise was slightly naive, and there was no mention of inclement weather, or the crucial impact having decent clothing and boots makes to enjoying time outside.
At the film’s core, though, was the simple idea that children (and adults) just do not get outdoors enough. I can’t argue with that, and really admire David and his team’s vim and brio in bringing the problem to our attention. If you can get along to a screening, do!