Because of my interest in parenting and families, I was recently invited to a screening of "Babies," a documentary produced by Focus Features.* French filmmaker Thomas Balmes and his French producer, Alain Chabat, tracked four babies in four different countries from birth to about 18 months. Watching a wordless 79 minutes of film about babies from around the globe doesn't sound like something you would rush out to see. You would make a mistake if you miss it.
"Babies" is gripping, adorable, often times funny, and always exquisite. The families live in economically and socially diverse countries: Japan, Namibia, Mongolia, and the United States. In the most beautiful ways, "Babies" underscores that having and raising a child is a universal experience whether you live in "the bush" or in an apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay.
Parents respond in much the same manner to their growing offspring; the babies act and react in strikingly similar ways. When one baby attempts to take a plastic bottle from his older sibling, the sibling strikes back; the crying and vying for supremacy rings true for anyone anywhere who has watched two young children at play. We witness this sibling rivalry in a tribal village in Opuwo, Namibia.