Kafka for Kids (2022)

Kafka for Kids
Director: Roee Rosen
Writer: Roee Rosen
Cast: Jeff Francis, Hani Furstenberg, Eli Gorenstein, Orna Katz, Nadia Kucher, Yiftach Mizrahi, Ayelet Robinson, Hillel Benjamin Rosen, Yam Umi, Yifeat Ziv
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2022

In a colorful set, a storyteller (Jeff Francis) tries to make Kafka’s stories approachable for children. A child (Hani Furstenberg) is his guest, and she is astonished by the fantastic world of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. But, as the Bearer of Bad News (Eli Gorenstein) will tell you with a song, adapting Kafka is no easy task, especially since Kafka didn’t want any visualizations himself. But who gets to make those rules and to what end? A question that can also be applied to the law itself, the legal absurdities in Israeli occupied Palestine mirroring those of Kafka’s stories.

Kafka for Kids is an experience. It is hilarious and extremely serious, a persiflage as much as an hommage, a fantastic musical comedy and a legal lecture. In short, it is absolutely awesome.

The film poster showing colorful drawn characters in an eccentric style.

Most of the film is a straight-up concept: what if you actually wanted to make Kafka accessible for kids? What could this look like? Could it work at all? Rosen just goes ahead and gives it a go and the result is equally realistic and completely absurd. In a fantastic set, supplemented with surreal animations (drawn by Rosen himself, if I understood correctly) and a whole bunch of musical numbers, you can almost see this show running on TV, while also making the often quite weird moments of this show visible. It’s funny as fuck.

But ultimately this film is not one for children, and the film takes a sharp turn when the children’s program is interrupted for a legal lecture by a lawyer (also played by Hani Furstenberg). She tackles a question that was raised in the children’s program earlier: when is a child a child, and when do they transform into adulthood? Considering legal standards it’s not only a sudden event (like Gregor Samsa’s transformation), but there is a difference between Israeli and Palestinian children. According to Israeli law, Palestinian children become (legal) adults sooner.

The child (Hani Furstenberg) and the storyteller (Jeff Francis) looking intently at a boot in the colorful set of the show.

This legal lecture, as absurd as it may sound, is apparently 100% correct and true to Israeli law, drawing on legal documents (one even inclused a quote by Kafka in a nice closing of the circle), but the 20 minute monologue also includes reference to the personal life of the lawyer, increasing both the weirdness and the impact of the whole thing.

In the end, we return to the children’s program that ends on a rather melancholy note, the question of who gets to be a child and for how long still weighing heavily on everybody.

a face painted blue with white dots looking out of a blanket in the same colors.

Summarizing: a one of a kind film.

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