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Even in French, as an English-speaking viewer, the language of adolescence shines through. The girls sit and argue and debate over whether or not Quebec should secede from Canada while the boys get high and ponder the philosophical significance of the butterflies on the bathroom wallpaper.

Once again, the idea that "kids are the same all over the world," the overarching theme in most of the foreign coming-of-age films at these festivals, is blatantly evident.

Verreault and Bernadet first selected 50 kids from a "typical" suburban high school and narrowed the group down to a dozen, then turned on the cameras and let them "be themselves.

Written, directed, produced, and edited by Myriam Verreault and Henry Bernadet, "West of Pluto" is everything I look for in great independent cinema.

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The audience is almost privileged to be let into their secret world of drama and joy -- the viewer feels like a voyeur at times, as though one needs permission to watch. Unlike most depictions of the sexes in cinema, the respect they show each other is remarkable, especially among the boys.

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The sniping, fighting, and one-upmanship so common in films simply isn't present here. Because of weather conditions they all remain stranded on No, it was the actions of one eccentric canine which had me rolling on the floor. Throughout most of the film we see males and females interacting with others of their own gender.

In fact, the girls are actually tougher when together.

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But it wasn't anything the kids akojo dating after divorce that prompted that to happen. Emily MortimerBill NighyPatricia Clarkson Set in a small town in England, it is the story of a woman who decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop, a decision which becomes a political minefield.

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It doesn't take long to get to know these endearing kids as their day plays out before the camera the story takes place over one hour period. Her unorthodox visit to his hospital bedside has a profound impact on them both, So while the action isn't necessarily improvised, they aren't reading lines off the page, either.

The dog steals the show. It is the "sweet little indie" that will stay in your mind long after leaving the theater.

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Being shot and set in Quebec, the film is in French with English subtitles. The most striking observation uncovered by watching these kids is how dramatic a contrast there is between girls when they are among other girls and boys as a group. But if my Holy Grail of festivals is the "sweet little American indie," well, I just may have found it in this film -- just take out "American" and replace it with "Canadian.

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The filmmakers' style includes numerous extreme closeups, as the emotions projected by these endearing kids' faces and eyes often say more than even the most powerful words can. One recurring theme is the idea of kids being left to their own devices, either by choice or lack of adult supervision, and the inevitable dark turn and ensuing spiral into mayhem which occurs.

He gradually becomes unable to tell dreams from reality.

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As non-actors, these are literally real kids saying real things. The boys show more vulnerability even towards each other -- it is they who shed the tears, not the girls.

A l'ouest de Pluton

This is the kind of charming film that makes attending festivals and sitting through dozens of movies worthwhile. As we spend more and more time with them, it becomes clear that these young people represent all of us -- every viewer will be able to identify with one or more of them, which is what makes it such a universally appealing film.

Jakob CedergrenJessica DinnageJohan Olsen A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. Was this review helpful to you? Toby, a disillusioned advertising executive, becomes pulled into a world of time jumping fantasy when a Spanish cobbler believes him to be Sancho Panza.

Marcello Marcello Fontea small and gentle dog groomer, finds himself involved in a dangerous relationship of subjugation with Simone Edoardo Pescea former violent boxer who terrorizes the entire What's fascinating about attending film festivals is how trends begin to emerge after seeing dozens of films.

Emma ThompsonStanley TucciRosie Cavaliero As her marriage to Jack flounders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye has a life-changing decision to make at work - should she force a teenage boy, Adam, to have the blood transfusion that will save his life?

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Stefano AccorsiCarolina CrescentiniElena Cucci A big family that like any other one includes relatives that see each other often and others that rarely meet, reunite to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of grandma Alba and grandpa Pietro in a big Villa, on the island they moved to.

All owe a debt to Gus Van Sant and Larry Clark, who are perhaps the two best known filmmakers able to capture the awkwardness of adolescence, the pangs of first love, and the playfulness of children without supervision.

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It is now a common device among younger directors who count him among their influences and freely admit it. In films like "Elephant" and "Paranoid Park," in particular, Van Sant did the same while using long takes and tracking shots, viewing the kids as observers with a deliberate, slow pace.