Kids On The Moon (2022)

Screengrab from “Kids On The Moon”. Copyright: Dinko Draganovic

Today’s teenagers live under preassure of the social media tempo, pushed to comply to the latest trends to be ‘in’. If you are not online cashing likes, you are a nobody, a weirdo undeserving of respect and attention. Everybody is online either offering their thing or searching for something that floats their boat. In the sea of content, there is a huge number of weird stuff trending on YouTube or Tic-Toc, dictating rules of ‘coolness’ with tutorials about how to do things you would think were illegal, or dangerous, self-harming and plain stupid. Take anything that comes to your mind, even if it feels completely ridiculous, type it in google and you’ll find it out there: squirrels dancing to Mariah Carey, hot potato voice, how to make people think you’re an alien, and all kinds of wtf tutorials from how to look like a baby to how to make weapons.

Ayla, Luna and Mani have developed interest in a special form of asphyxiation discovered on the internet. The film kicks off with a series of short videos showing various people demonstrating how to make someone briefly unconcious, which is something the teens practice in a drained pool somewhere where no one can see them.

Their idea is to film asphyxiating each other live, taking turns. Draganovic is after something that most of us were not spared from in our teenage years: the power of group dynamics which doesn’t allow ‘no’ as an answer even if the reason for abjection of certain practices is pretty strong, and potentionally life-thretening. The wish to explore the forbidden, so universal for teenagers in the energy loaded and at the same time exhausting phase between childhood and adulthood, is explored through one dramatic angle which ends the fun part of it. The moment which changes everything for the girls is also the one that reveils their characters, and even their background.

Without giving away too much, the script hints at girls’ shared past in a juvenile prison, which also steers the situation direction catastrophe but there are bits and pieces added to the main plot that feel like having to be explored more, like a stressfull relationship between Luna and her mother, or Mani’s problems with the law. They stick out as something that half-belongs in the plot and that could potentionally steer it in a completely different direction. On the other hand, the character study is done well, and it will make the reactions of each girl easier to grasp. The camera eyes their initial excitement and then anguish in a lifeless, concrete setting of an abandoned building in ice-cold blue hues.

Kids On The Moon screened in the Local Artists section of Crossing Europe Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. It is a fim that might upset and irritate for its calm representation of practices alien to the majority of people, provoking many questions about the impact of social media on youth, but this chamber piece brings more to the table. In its core, Kids on The Moon is about the youth on the margins of society trying to find meaning with life through unusual practices.

Country: Austria
Language: German
Runtime: 14′
Production: Fora Film
Producer(s): Dinko Draganovic, Sinisa Vidovic
Written/ Directed by: Dinko Draganovic
DoP: Lukas Kronsteiner
Cast: Melanie Sidhu, Dana Koganova, Annelie Straub
Editing: Dragan Dinkovic
Sound/Sounddesign: Dominik Kostolnik