Handling scythes, gas burners and heavy farming equipment is child’s play, but spelling is a whole different ballgame for the pint-sized protags of “The Children From the Napf.” Like her medium-length docu work, this feature debut from Swiss helmer Alice Schmid focuses on children, this time a group of Helvetian pupils, ages 6-13, who attend a school in a mountainous region between Berne and Lucerne. Docu and kid-focused sprocket operas should take a look, though the padded-out running time and meandering narrative also allow for easy repackaging for the tube.
Some kids have to walk for miles, while others have to take a cable car to get to their school on Mount Napf, an area accessible only on foot. Pic follows them for a year, with the passing of the seasons clearly visible when they help out their parents with farmwork on the slopes. Besides straightforward observational shots, the tykes also speak directly to camera, which yields a few pearls of child logic but otherwise fails to develop any sustained argument beyond the implicit contrast with other First World children. Digivid quality is mediocre, transfer to 35mm somewhat wasted.