Kids’ Business

There’s nothing you can’t talk about

dvd-coverKids’ Business is a compelling documentary about kids and violence, bullying
and relationships.

Filmed in a Bendigo primary school, it follows a grade five and six class taking part in Solving the Jigsaw, an early-intervention and violence prevention program that changes a culture of violence and bullying into a culture of wellbeing. For an hour each week, the Jigsaw facilitator encourages the class to talk openly about all aspects of their lives. The film shows them grappling with their feelings as they share their concerns in front of their classmates about things that have happened at school and at home.

‘My Dad threatened me with a knife.’
‘Dad has stopped talking to us.’
‘We want to see our great-granddad before he dies.’
‘No one plays with me and I’m not included.’
‘There was a big fight last night and I felt really scared and frightened.’
‘I want to spend more time with Dad.’

Over the course of a year Jigsaw helps them learn to feel safe and to develop
trust. They also learn to deal with their problems, and how to talk about their
lives and what matters.

Kids Business has won several awards including a 2009 Human Rights Award and an Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Service Media Award in 2010. It was given 4 stars in The Age, and described as a film that is “both heartbreaking and joyous”.

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Kids’ Business Study Guide

The making of the documentary

Solving the Jigsaw had originally invited People Pictures, film-makers Stewart Carter and Cath South, into the Bendigo classroom to produce videos that could be used to train facilitators, teachers and parents.

Amazed by what they found, Stuart and Cath distilled 80 hours of footage into a 58-minute documentary that reveals the complexities of the children’s lives and their relationships.

‘The making of this film has been an extraordinary learning experience,’ Cath says.

‘As filmmakers, it has always interested us that there are some stories that are virtually impossible to tell in a documentary form. That everyone in the film was willing to have their stories on the screen has been profoundly moving.’ When they began shooting, the pair had no idea they would be witnessing such challenging and moving moments.

‘While shooting we were amazed at how easily Bernadette turned dramas into places of learning, with clear ways to move forward,’ Cath says.

‘We were particularly struck by the wisdom and clarity these kids showed in their understanding of their experiences.’

By the editing stage the film makers had learned that the kids could raise difficult topics, and through Bernadette’s effective approach, gain greater understanding of their lives.

It was also clear that the kids were happier. So they kept the difficult stories. During the editing they screened the footage to the kids, and with their consent, later screened it to their parents.

The filmmakers decision to include those challenging and sensitive stories, and to overcome their urge to censor material, turned out to be correct.

All the families agreed the footage should be included in the documentary. They felt that it was important for people to hear their kids talk wisely and openly about their feelings.

Hearing the kids’ perspectives on domestic violence, relationships with parents and grief shows just how deeply they are affected by such issues.