'Babies' - Making the Doc
Director Thomas Balmes discussed the process of his new documentary.
On April 30th, the second and final screening of Babies during the 2010 Hot Docs Festival, French filmmaker Thomas Balmes gave the audience a glimpse of the work that he put into creating the 79-minute documentary. "I broke my back," Balmes said jokingly, referring to the hardship of constantly crouching down to shoot scenes from the babies' perspectives. The documentary, which was shot over the course of 400 days and cut from thousands of hours of footage, had Balmes travelling around the world.
Babies is Balmes' third entry in the Hot Docs festival. The documentary follows the lives of four newborns from Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco. The film captures a one-year journey into the babies' lives, their families and their cultures. Devoid of any subtitles or voiceovers, audiences are taken into "baby talk" throughout the film.
Balmes said during the post-screening Q&A that he picked countries where he has previously worked. It was then that he held major castings before picking the families. The director almost chose five babies, but settled for four to make sure the message in the film remains clear.
The four babies selected in the end represent a wide range of cultures, but Balmes mentioned that one of the goals of the documentary was "not to fantasize or have any judgment." The director, who has three kids, revealed that one of his children was the same age as the babies in the film, but he couldn't convince his wife to put their infant on the big screen. In his final decision to cast the families in the documentary, Balmes said, "I wanted four families who love their kids but in all different ways."
Babies premieres in theatres on May 7.