It took director Thomas Balmès four years to give birth to “Babies,” so here’s hoping Bay Area audiences consider the documentary a bundle of joy.
Chance are they will.
The film, which opens today, chronicles the offspring of four couples from different parts of the world, tracking a year of the babies’ lives. There’s a boy from Mongolia, a girl from Namibia and a feisty gal from Tokyo. Best of all is San Francisco’s Hattie Bradshaw.
Naturally, her parents, Frazer Bradshaw and Susie Wise, couldn’t be more proud.
Bradshaw is a cinematographer. He actually shot a good portion of Hattie’s footage whenever Balmès was in other parts of the globe filming the other babies. Wise teaches “design thinking” at Stanford.
“I really love the observational nature of the film,” Wise says. “I felt how it showed the babies evolving and learning was very interesting, especially when we live in a world where we’re used to going a million miles a minute.”
“We live in a culture that tells us how we’re supposed to think and feel and the film offers a really different perspective,” Bradshaw says.
Indeed it does. There’s hardly any dialogue in the documentary, and thanks to its four engaging stars, as well as the music by Bruno Coulais (“Coraline”), the film’s goal is to offer enough mental breathing room for its audiences to simply experience something rather than be bombarded by it.
Meanwhile, young Hattie, who is now 4 and lives with her parents in Oakland, actually watched the film. (Well, she watched as much as much a 4-year-old’s attention span could take.)
“She’s actually more of a fan of the trailer,” Wise notes. “She was curious about seeing herself but really fascinated about watching the other babies. She calls them by name and talks about them. She mostly concluded that she is a ‘girl.’”
This after witnessing one scene from the movie that finds the male Mongolian baby lying down in between diaper changes and happily relieving himself.
“She’s really interested now in seeing it in a real theater,” Wise adds. “Hattie told me, ‘I am going to see it really big theater and be with my friends.’”
Whether she’ll take her thumb out of her mouth long enough to give it an official “thumbs up” remains to be seen.