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By Holly Wright
DIFF writer

Wednesday, April 9 @ Angelika
Thursday, April 10 @ Angelika
Wednesday, April 9 @ Angelika
Tuesday, April 8 @ Angelika

There is an African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child”. Three DIFF films take us behind closed doors to see how families function in places Missouri, Kazakhstan and Texas, where children raise themselves.

HELLION, directed by Kat Candler and with a fabulous performance by Aaron Paul, shows an all too familiar scene of a one-parent home. Paul plays Hollis Wilson, a single father trying to raise two sons. One day, Child Protective Services is called out to remove the boys from him. Admittedly, Hollis is not coping well with the loss of his wife, and the raising of his children, but it seems that neighbors are more apt to call CPS than to get involved and see if they can help. Hollis’ older son, Jacob, is headed down the road that leads to a juvenile detention center and his younger son, Wes, played by Deke Garner, just wants a stable home. Josh Wiggins gives an amazing performance as the 13-year-old Jacob, struggling to balance his need to be a kid while being forced into adult from a lack of supervision.



RICH HILL is a gripping documentary directed by cousins, Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos. The film centers on Andrew, Apacheey, and Harley, 3 boys in different families dealing with life the best they know how to. Each family has their own issues to cope with, but the common denominator appears to be poverty. Co-director, Tracy Droz Tragos said that “they met Andrew in a park in Rich Hill, Missouri, where he was hanging out. Andrew joked later that he thought we were cops at first.” LITTLE BROTHER[/caption]Andrew’s parents do not seem to have the same hard working determination that Andrew does. Economic difficulties, among others, keep Andrew’s family moving around and providing very little stability for him or his siblings. In another home across town, Apacheey’s family consists of a mother at her wits end. She does not have any type of support system, nor village to help her, and with several other children, has all but given up on him. Meanwhile, a young boy named Harley is being raised by his grandmother because his mother is incarcerated, guilty of little more than being poor and unable to provide herself with adequate representation. While Harley’s grandmother tries to be there for him, there’s a palpable sense of the family just being overwhelmed by life.



Tracy wants the audience to see “the nebulous of social capital. They are people that matter and they need help.” Documentaries like this are important not just to raise the social conscience but also to illuminate some of the darkness of homes in our own communities.

The breakdown of the family unit is clearly not unique to America, as we see in LITTLE BROTHER. Directed by Seric Apymov, the film tells the story of nine-year-old Yerkin, a little boy living in Kazakhstan who is literally raising himself. Yerkin goes to school each day, makes bricks to earn money in his spare time, and awaits the return of his older brother, who is away studying in the city. With no father around and his mother deceased, Yerkin has no one to tuck him in at night nor help him with his homework. But, amazingly, when the time is right, young Yerkin knows, more than the inhabitants of his town, that an honorable person is supposed to act.


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