Artist Profile: Genevieve Bailey

25 July 2012 | 5:45 am | Kate Kingsmill

Five minutes with Genevieve Bailey.

Filmmaker Genevieve Bailey figured there is something special about the age of 11. “It's a special kind of cusp where you don't quite feel like a kid anymore but you're not quite teenage age and you're definitely not an adult yet,” she says. “So you feel in-between, but you're full of ideas and personality and opinions but you're not yet at that stage when you get more awkward or self-critical or censor yourself or worry about what sounds cool. I wanted to explore that but rather than do it in my own backyard in Australia I wanted to do it around the world.” After six years of filming 23 11-year-olds, Bailey premiered I Am Eleven at last year's Melbourne International Film Festival. It is now screening nationally and after its first week of release, it became the cinema's highest grossing documentary in several years. 

When Bailey began working on the film, she could not have imagined all the other ways in which the project would impact on her life. Two weeks into the making of the documentary, she met Henrik Nordstrom in Prague. He was a fan of her film work and knew an 11-year-old called Grace who ended up in the film, and Nordstrom became Bailey's accomplice on the film and partner in life. Affected by the children she met during the making of the film, Bailey has also established The Darlingheart Foundation for children's human rights. Her faith in the age of 11 remains strong.“When you're 11 you have this quiet confidence about you and this courage and this willingness to say how it is and express yourself and willingness to be different. I think that regardless of their race, religion or gender or where they're living in the world or their socioeconomic background, there's something that unites them all which is this sense of hope for the future and this sense that anything is possible. I think that's really special and it's such a shame that so many of us lose that as we get older.”

I Am Eleven screens at the Nova Cinemas in Melbourne, Dendy Cinemas in Brisbane and Cinema Paradiso in Perth.