All The Invisible Children Mehdi Charef / Neil Jordan / Emir Kurturica / Spike Lee / Katrina Lund / Ridley Scott / Stefano Veneruso / John Woo

Put together as a benefit of UNICEF and the World Food Program, All the Invisible Children is a collection of short films by internationally recognised directors that all feature children. Mehdi Charef's "Tanza" is the first film, a quiet and symbolic look at child soldiers in West Africa that suffers from having its actors inexplicably speak their dialogue in English. Emir Kusturica's "Blue Gypsy" is an existentialist look at the juvenile detention system in Russia through the eyes of young Uros, a seasoned thief whose life is better in the safe world of prison. Spike Lee gives us "Jesus Children of America," a portrait of an HIV positive teen girl in Brooklyn with well-intentioned junkie parents and a peer group that torments her on the playground. Rosie Perez is amazing as the girl's mother, but the film descends into heavy-handed after-school special territory towards the end. Perhaps the best film of the bunch is Katrina Lund's "Bilu e Joao," an adventurous tale of a boy and girl scavenging the streets of Sao Paolo for anything they can sell. Even as they face huge disappointments and harsh economic lessons, the spirit of these kids is remarkable to watch. Ridley Scott and his daughter Jordan offer the most esoteric entry to the program with "Jonathan," a fantastical and haunting look at children living in war zones. Italian director Stefano Veneruso fills his "Ciro" with dance and rhythm as he explores the world of pretty boy thieves in Naples and the society that wants to do away with them. The finale is a bittersweet film by John Woo called "Song Song and Little Cat" that follows two economically different girls in China whose lives briefly intersect. He ends the movie with a vision of hope. This program of films is well put together, gaining momentum throughout and finishing nicely. It's interesting to watch the national styles of cinema shine through this international effort. (MK/RAI)