The Day My Father Became a Bush

Toen mijn vader een struik werd

Nicole van KilsdonkNetherlands / Belgium / Croatia89 minutes2016PGAges 9- 13Grades 4- 6ColourDutchN/A

Director Nicole van Kilsdonk applies a childlike sensibility to this story of a 10-year-old girl whose life is upended by the sudden outbreak of war, adapted from the novel by award-winning author Joke van Leeuwen.

Director Nicole van Kilsdonk brings to life award-winning Dutch novelist Joke van Leeuwen’s story of war as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. In a charming town in an unspecified country, Toda spends her free time baking sweets with her father, a pastry chef. When conflict breaks out between the "Ones" and "the Others," her father is conscripted to go off to fight, leaving Toda in the care of her grandmother. As her town becomes an active warzone, Toda’s grandmother arranges for her to travel secretly across the border to a neighbouring country where her mother lives. Toda must rely on her own resourcefulness and intuition in order to navigate the various perils that accompany her every move.

Set in the present day, this film imbues its complex issues — on-theground realities of national borders, language barriers, and the politics of refugee status — with a childlike sensibility. And by omitting Toda’s nationality, it makes a powerful, universal statement about fear and displacement.

Content Advisory: soldiers with guns, bombing, toy gun, smoking, near drowning

Social JusticeLiterary InterestPerseverance