News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by
Arts & Entertainment

'I Am Eleven': Film explores what 11 year olds around the world care about

Jamira - I Am Eleven
Jamira - I Am Eleven
Photo Credit: Henrik Nordstrom

Listen to story

Download this story 11MB

Filmmaker Genevieve Bailey spent six years traveling the world -- 15 countries in all -- with one goal in mind: To find eleven year olds and talk to them about what matters in their lives. 

Starting from her home country, Australia, she went to Thailand, Prague, and the South of India; she went to Morocco, France, and China.

Her journey has become a feature documentary titled, "I am Eleven."

It's sweet, it's funny, and the kids Bailey met along the way are wise. 

"I Am Eleven" is in U.S. theaters now.


On what inspired Bailey to make "I Am Eleven"

The idea first came to me when I was working at a newspaper back in Australia and I was seeing bad news all day, everyday. It was really getting me down and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to make a film that was uplifting and engaged me and inspired me, but also made audiences happy?' And so, I thought back to my favorite age in life and that's when I was eleven.

On some of the topics the kids talk about

I wasn't shying away from giving the kids a platform to talk about more serious issues, which you see in the film, [having] to do with bullying and war and terrorism. But they also talk about love and family and culture and education and the future. I really wanted to balance out the themes explored, and to make sure that "I Am Eleven" was relevant to audiences of any age, but also of any background, any culture, any faith.

I'm really happy that the children in the film got to share their voice, because a lot of the time, we focus on what adults can teach kids. But having the opportunity to sit down and explore the world through the eyes of kids was...very much an eye-opener.

On guessing that 11 year olds would be interesting

I remember my own life as eleven being really full of energy and hope, and your blinders are off and you're starting to think about the wider world around you and getting really curious. And I love that curiosity that comes with childhood.

I asked them lots of questions and I always made sure the kids knew there was no right or wrong answer, they could comment in any way they wanted to. They were only representing themselves, not the whole world and not the country they're in.

I would argue that kids have a lot more to say about [serious] issues than what a lot of people give them credit for.