Share story

Before,” a documentary about children on the cusp of adolescence, is growing up. It is graduating from its online home on Vimeo to a screening at the Northwest Film Forum.

The half-hour film by Seattle filmmaker Terence Brown features interviews with students from Loyal Heights Elementary School in Ballard in the final days of fifth grade. They reflect on how it feels to be tweens, leaving their childhood years behind and entering the strange, fear-inducing world of middle school.

Their manifold anxieties range from the usual schoolyard stuff  (bullies, gossips and backstabbers)  to more universal territory (terrorism, gun violence, global warming.)

The boys worry about the girls, the girls worry about the boys.

Most Read Stories

Cyber Sale! Save 90% on digital access.

Brown asks them about health class, a rite of passage for fifth graders. One boy responds with musings on the mysteries of sex.

“Why do people do that?” he asks. “Is that, like, a bonding thing or something? Wow. That’s just weird. Gross.”

Brown interviews his subjects one at a time, speaking from off camera. They sit on a stool in a dimly lit school auditorium, addressing the camera directly, with an endearing mix of shyness and candor. Always thoughtful, their answers are at turns funny and poignant.

“I just don’t understand it,” one boy says. “Why can some make so much money for something so effortless, and why can some make so little money for something that’s just so hard?”

“Do you think you will miss your childhood?” Brown asks one girl.

“That’s for sure,” she replies. “I don’t want to grow up.”

“Do you think your childhood has passed fast?” he asks another.

“Yes,” she answers. “I wish it would slow down.”

“Before” will be shown on September 26 as part of the Film Forum’s Local Sightings program, which features the work of emerging Seattle film makers. Tickets are available here.