I Am Eleven
KRISSI WEISS interviews GENEVIEVE BAILEY, director of documentary I AM ELEVEN.
Australian filmmaker, Genevieve Bailey, was reminiscing about her youth at a time when her life was travelling through the rough seas of turmoil and loss. The specific time she pondered was the indefinable age of 11. Exiting childhood and entering the hormonally-charged turmoil of adolescence, 11 is a peculiar age where simplified logic is at odds with an ever-growing awareness of the world in which you live. Moving forward nearly seven years, thanks to her unwavering determination and with a handful of international film festival awards, Bailey is excited about the official release of her labour of love, I Am Eleven, in Australia and beyond.
“I just got some information to say that after our opening weekend in Melbourne it is the highest grossing Australian documentary in over three years which is just unbelievable,” Bailey says with a combination of excitement and relief. “After this weekend’s response they are sure that we will get even longer runs in some of the other cinemas we are screening in. We’re keen to get the film out online, on iTunes, on DVD, and to make it available to people in Australia and also internationally in as many ways as we can. The film was shot in over 15 different countries and it seems that the film has a life on the education platform as well; teachers and students have been responding really well to it.”
With information so readily accessible and global issues so consuming, the insights that these young individuals provided throughout the film are thoroughly charming and at times it is easy to wonder whether some of their logic should be applied to current political decision-making. Bailey endeavoured to unite innocence and hope with some obviously challenging situations as she snuck into the minds of our next generation. “I was looking back on when I was eleven and I wanted to create a snapshot of what it is like to be eleven today compared to the experience I had,” she says. “I was going through a difficult time; I had a serious car accident and my dad had passed away from cancer and I wanted something positive to work on. I wanted to give myself the challenge of going overseas on my own and shooting this. It started back in 2005 and I would go away for a few months every year and then come back and work to save up money to go back again.”
I Am Eleven is not simply a documentary. Bailey utilised social media to promote the concept of the film long before it appeared in front of any audiences The response was overwhelming. Producing, directing, shooting and editing a film completely independently is an arduous task; Her enthusiasm was sustained not only by the uplifting subject matter, but also by this early audience engagement. People really wanted to see this film. “I can honestly say my energy never waned,” she says. “When you are producing a film independently you need so much self-belief and so much resilience because there are so many hurdles to jump. I think if the film had’ve been a depressing subject, or if it was gruelling to connect with, it would’ve been really hard but just from the trailer online and the social media campaign, the audience response was amazing and people were really interested.” That people can explore this concept on a variety of platforms ensures that it will live on long after the credits roll in cinemas and festivals. “We also have the online platform, http://www.iameleven.com, so we’re really keen to invite kids from all over the world to submit their own content — whether that is their stories or photos or poems or however they want to express themselves. We’re really excited about expanding it beyond just the feature length documentary.”
KRISSI WEISS is a writer, musician, wannabe filmmaker and science student — bores easily. A Rave regular, Krissi also writes about music and the arts for a number of interstate and international publications.