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Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Jamie Jay Johnson interview

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Jamie Jay Johnson interview

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The director chats to Film Network about his documentary following the trials and tribulations of Junior Eurovison contestants

The director chats to Film Network about his documentary following the trials and tribulations of Junior Eurovison contestants.

For the best part of five decades the Eurovision Song Contest has offered the Great British public a chance to celebrate diversity in music and, more importantly, to have a good laugh at the amateur pop acts. (Address your complaints to Terry Wogan.) It's therefore surprising that so little is known in this country about the Junior Eurovison Song Contest, established in 2003 to showcase the best of Europe's teenaged singing talent. London-born filmmaker Jamie Jay Johnson came across it in 2006 and felt it would be the ideal subject for his debut film.

Contestant Babs Buelens bites her nails in anticipation.

Contestant Babs Buelens bites her nails in anticipation.

Before this, Johnson was making documentary shorts, including the BAFTA-nominated anti-travelogue Holiday Around My Bedroom. He also developed an interest in 'loveable losers', chronicling the exploits of the slowest Olympic swimmer and events at the World Mini Golf championship. It's a theme explored more deeply in Sounds Like Teen Spirit, a film that takes him from Belgium to Bulgaria, Cyprus and the former Soviet republic of Georgia to capture all the angst and exuberance of these young contestants as they strive to make their dreams come true. Johnson immediately recognised the comedic potential and it's especially apt at a time when the airwaves are clogged with the crooning of desperate young wannabes. However, unlike many a TV talent show, Johnson treats his subjects with affection rather than cruelty and prompts cynical grownups to recall their own childhood fantasies.

Chatting to BBC Film Network, Johnson reflects on the daunting experience of working with children (and their parents); earning their trust and adapting to their customs whilst, at the same time, keeping enough of a distance to ensure the kids wouldn't play up to the camera.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit is released nationwide in UK cinemas on Friday 8th May 2009.

Interview and text: Stella Papamichael; Video: Stephen Bailey | Published 8th May 09

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1 comments posted.

  • Mar 5, 2010

    nathan-7

    A fantastic film, a great showcase of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and the stories that each of the children have to tell.

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