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New Boy is a fantastic live action short recently nominated for a 2009 Oscar. The endearing film highlights the first day of school for a young African boy, after he arrives in Ireland.
Kids can be brutal, but eventually the common thread is that they are, after all, kids.
After being ridiculed by his new classmates, Joseph finds camaraderie with the very same young boys who were out for his blood at the beginning of the school day.
The teacher tries to keep it all together, which is hard when one boy shoves a finger full of snot Joseph’s way. Joseph reacts by grabbing the boy’s finger for dear life. But Joseph seems to be the one who is unfairly reprimanded.
Throughout all the turmoil of a day that seems to never end, Joseph survives by summoning past memories when he was in an all boys’ classroom in his homeland, Africa. These sequences seem to help him conquer all that’s being thrown his way.
A female student, Hazel, tries to protect Joseph as much as she can; but recess holds the true test. In the schoolyard, common sense and kinship appear to outweigh malice, as Joseph is confronted with evil incarnate, as he is pounced upon and challenged to a duel. But he and his newly made friends finally stand united against the teacher—finding laughter in the midst of it all.
Joseph is a great young actor, who shows emotions ranging from fear, defiance, sadness, frustration, to finally joy!
Hazel is great, also, as a feisty “brown-nose” young girl, whose job she feels is to make everything right.
Joseph is brilliantly played by Olutunji Ebun-Cole, and Hazel is played by Sinead Maguire. New Boy is based on a short story by Roddy Doyle; directed by Steph Green and produced by Tamara Anghie.
New Boy, along with a group of other shorts, will screen at the Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport, through Thursday, Feb. 12. For more info, visit www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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