PODCAST| Matt Micucci interviews Mikala Krogh, director of the film A Year of Hope.
To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture
Director Mikala Krogh presented her latest feature documentary, A Year of Hope, at the 30th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The film talks about a group of street boys from Manila, in the Philippines, who are sent to a rehabilitation centre for a year, on an island very different from Manila, where they get the attention and care they don’t otherwise get. These street boys are drug addicted, or were subjected to serious trauma. They are only allowed to stay at the centre for a year, and once the year is out, they will hopefully not return to the streets, but head for a better life. In order to make A Year of Hope, Krogh moved to the Philippines for a year with her family – her husband even ended up being the football coach at the centre; as for her kids, “my childen [are] from Denmark,” so it was good for them to see “another part of life, of reality.” Krogh tells us about the current situation in the Philippines and why centres, such as that she films, are needed. “There are more than one million street kids in the Philippines,” she says. As for the work of the centre, she concludes that you can’t help every child, and while the overall tone of the film is optimistic, “not all stories have a happy end.” In this interview we ask her about how she established a level of trust with the young protagonists of her film, and how she ultimately came to choose the two that she mainly follows in A Year of Hope. She also talks about how the children did not have a problem being filmed, about trying to find a balance between “filming and not filming,” about what the centre does for the kids that are not able to be taken back in by their families, and more.
A Year of Hope: You won’t want to watch this story about life on the streets of Manila, but you should. It’s shocking to hear young Tracy and Joshua talk about being drugged and sexually abused, about how they have to steal their clothes from clotheslines. Alternatively, we also see them surrounded by love, food and nurturing during their year with the Stairway Foundation in the rural Philippines. While there, they learn that their genitals are theirs and theirs alone. Meanwhile, we see police cadets being taught in the same open way about penises and vaginas. These future officers are obviously more uncomfortable about these discussions than the street children they will someday work to protect. As the children’s conversations are cut with grainy shots of the streets of Manila, the contrast is obvious between the dark city and the sunny coast where children can be children again. But life on the street is always lurking in the background.