Kids can’t sing. People who enter Eurovision generally can’t sing (Gina G, I apologise…). So here’s a perfect match. This “popumentary” follows a number of kids vying for the title of winner of Junior Eurovision 2007. Pitched at an interesting level, this neither takes the piss out of Eurovision in a Wogan-esque way, nor takes it as seriously as it clearly is by many of the “smaller” countries around the continent.
First off, this seemed the wrong approach to take, afterall what dramatic interest are a bunch of kids singing going to provide if it’s not comedy. But actually this film connects on a real emotional level as the viewer feels complete empathy with the junior contestants, some of which seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Perhaps the best example of this is Mariam, a 13-year-old Georgian who goes to the competition without her mother, who lives in a ramshackle tower block and vows to take tranquilisers before her daughter’s performance. Given free fruit and blessings on the street, Mariam carries the hopes of her country on her shoulders and stars in the live final, which receives no less than 23 million viewers before being caught up in the Russian offensive which took place in summer 2008.
There’s also plenty to laugh at though, perhaps the deadpan Belgian commentator who says “they are not singing very good” of three Dalton Sisters aged no more than nine or Belgian finalists Trust who have had a street in their native town of Ypres named after them, such is the measure of their success.
This documentary gave a real insight, perhaps for the first time for, as to just why people from so many, realistically, fairly unremarkable countries get so worked up by Eurovision. With over 14,000 entrants vying for the Rotterdam final it’s clear the stakes are high for a competition which says as much about fragmented European politics as it does about mini-camp entertainment. An interesting documentary, a DVD in front of the fire watch for sure.