REVIEW: Miss Kiet’s Children

Kiet Engels is the type of teacher we all wished we had in school. Strict but receptive. Patient and passionate about progress. Under her guidance, a class full of young refuges and their stories, who came to the Netherlands in order to seek a better and fairer future, unravels its innocence transforming it into a willingness for learning.

The directing duo Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster delivers a lesson of paramount importance regarding the difficult task of integration in a foreign, unknown county and focuses on particular pupils, excellently depicting their personal improvement. At the start, Haya is aggressive and non receptive. Under the decisive help of Miss Kiet, she is transformed into an excellent student, willing to help all of her classmates. Leanne is lonely and seems to face difficulties in trying to open up. But she is learning Dutch so rapidly that by the end of semester she can tell Branche that she is in love with him. Jorj and his younger brother Maksim, with overt traumas coming from the Syrian war, inform their teacher they could not play football in their hometown because of the bombing. After a while, they understand that, by learning, they can become happy again and win their life back from the war. Miss Kiet points out the fact that they do not have to be afraid in the Netherlands, since it is not involved in their war.

This beautifully observed documentary succeeds in depicting the way migrant children not only learn how to speak and write Dutch, but how to respect their classmates. Despite the difficulties in their personal day-to-day interactions, they are doing their best. They learn not to think about the past – instead they look forward to their future. The film manages to beautifully demonstrate the refugee crisis, while focusing on the powerful Miss Kiet, focusing on the painful process of integration instead of their harrowing journey of arrival, at a time when the number of refuges fleeing to Central Europe is on the rise.

Yorgos Paschos

 



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