A combination of kidpic and rap musical set in a Stockholm ‘burb, “Kidz in Da Hood” is a charming and often unpredictable movie. After nabbing all top honors at Sweden’s main Golden Bugs Awards in late January, pic looks likely to generate healthy foreign sales following its platforming in the Berlin fest’s renamed youth section, Generation.
Nine-year-old Amina (Beylula Kidane Adgoy) is a refugee, along with her grandfather, from an unidentified Arab country. When grandpa dies from a heart attack, Amina realizes she hasn’t got a residence permit and could be deported any day. Energetic neighbor Mirre (Embla Hjulstrom), who’s the same age, teams up with other kids to fight for Amina’s right to stay.
Another neighbor, tattooed heavy-metal fan Johan (Gustaf Skarsgard), reluctantly agrees to let Amina stay with him, but soon they bond and become close friends. Everyone campaigns for Johan to adopt Amina, and pretty social worker Janet (singer Jennifer Brown) also joins in, falling in love with Johan in the process.
Add in a subplot where the kids try to expose some thieves who hide their stolen goods in a basement, and “Kidz” doesn’t sound like a pic that would win any awards for originality of plot. Instead, there’s originality to spare in the way it’s been made.
At the most unexpected moments, kids and adults start to sing and dance, and the film becomes a vibrant, often funky movie that all ages can enjoy. Fluently moving with the music, the camerawork by d.p. Jallo Faber is a vital ingredient in pic’s success.
Catti Edfeldt (co-helming with Ylva Gustavsson) has been working in the Swedish film industry since she was an infant, initially acting in adaptations of Astrid Lindgren’s books and later helming kidpics. Her touch is evident here, with hardly a false note in the perfs by the young actors.
Among the adults, Skarsgard (son of Stellan) proves an appealing male lead as Johan, and rap singer Dogge Doggelito makes a fine acting debut as a fast-talking sales clerk in a foodstore.
“Kidz” was not a major B.O. hit last fall but went on to win film, director, leading actor, script and music awards at the Golden Bugs. Story was inspired by the classic 1945 tearjerker “Guttersnipes” (Rannstensungar), also remade in 1975.