Jennifer: Do you remember those times of neighborhood friendships and clubhouses?
Ramona: What about the budding romances? Jennifer:
Jennifer: What about the bully on the block?
Ramona: Well, filmmaker Vince Vittorio, along with co-director Trey Lineberger, tells the story of one of society's little microcosms, the neighborhood clubhouse, in the independent, feature-length film Little Men set on the very site of Oak Park in Tampa, Florida, where Vittorio once had his own childhood clubhouse.
Jennifer: The filmmakers call their work a cross between Lord of the Fliesand The Little Rascals.We call it a poignant recognition that the beginning of the end of injustice lies in the hands of our children.
Ramona: In the film, a group of eighteen neighborhood kids, ranging from five to thirteen years old, have built a clubhouse. Darren, one of the older boys and a consequent clubhouse leader, wants to stop letting girls in the neighborhood hang-out. A fight breaks out, leading Thomas, the other pseudo-patriarch, to front a movement to leave and build a new clubhouse where both genders are welcome.
Jennifer: The child's world of harmony and community is replaced by confusion, tension, and escalating acts of destruction as both groups of children struggle to understand how their former friends have suddenly become their enemies. Thomas explains that it is a matter of whether the kids want to be leaders or followers,
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But even Thomas' gentle leadership is undermined by a nighttime raid on the original clubhouse by rogues in his group, including his own brother. One act of vandalism is followed by another.
Ramona: From this point on, as the children alternately struggle with leading or following, their thoughts and actions become increasingly focused upon revenge and retribution, with some dangerous consequences. Yet, when the children fully realize the damage that they are capable of inflicting upon one another, they don't push ahead. Instead, they declare a truce, and, as the movie ends, peace talks begin.
Jennifer: As the kids start the slow process of rebuilding their community and its bonds of trust, an unspoken question lingers in the air.
Ramona: What can grown-ups learn from these children?
Copyright 2005© Ramona Caponegro and Jennifer Coenen
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Wednesday, 27-Apr-2005 14:10:19 EDT