Miss Kiet's Children

Directed by Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster

113 minutes / Color
English; Dutch / English subtitles
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2016

film stillKiet Engels is the kind of teacher one wishes every schoolchild could have. She is strict but never harsh. She is loving but never soft. Her patience in endless.

Many of Miss Kiet's pupils are refugees who have just arrived in Holland. Everything is new and confusing. Some are quarrelsome and headstrong. But Miss Kiet's firm but loving hand brings calm and awakens interest. She not only teaches her pupils to read and write Dutch, but also helps them learn to solve problems together and respect one another. Slowly the children gain skills and confidence.

Haya is at first impetuous, yet fearful. Little by little, Miss Kiet helps her to find her friendly side. Leanne is quiet and lonely. But after a few months she able to tell everyone, in Dutch, that she loves Branche. Jorj has trouble sleeping and is unruly. His little brother Maksim has terrible nightmares. Miss Kiet's tenacity helps Jorj discover that learning can be worthwhile and even fun.

By observation alone, without interviews or voice-over, the film focuses on four refugee children of different nationalities. Pursuing their perspective, the camera follows at close hand their struggles to learn a new language, their fights, their friendships and their first loves.

By the end of the documentary, an affectionate community has grown—the fruit of a teacher's patience and dedication. A film of many touching moments, some of them hilarious, MISS KIET'S CHILDREN chronicles changes that are small yet at the same time immense.

"One of the most revealingly honest presentations of what it’s like to be a child... [And] a heartening reminder of how much one person can do in the global refugee crisis." The Village Voice

"A master class in nonfiction filmmaking... A lovely, upbeat, even life-affirming film." The Hollywood Reporter

"Engrossing, tender and shrewdly observed." The Guardian

"Highly recommended! A touching tribute to the efforts of one dedicated teacher." Video Librarian

"All about hope and what can be achieved by one good woman... Outstanding." ScreenDaily

"Pays tribute to educators worldwide who work to help children recover from a range of different traumas." —Eye for Film

"4/4 stars." Slant Magazine

"Extraordinary! Both eye-opening and reassuring; This is a film about how children — and humans — adapt and learn. It focuses on the children, their evolving personalities, the cultivation of their social skills and their openness or resistance to learning and a new world."The Detroit News

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A film by Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster

Select Accolades

  • Best Documentary Feature, Dutch Academy Awards 2017
  • Audience Award, Munich Dok.Fest 2017
  • Special Mention, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
  • Honorable Mention, Audience Award for Best Film, Chicago European Union Film Festival
  • True/False Film Festival 2017
  • CPH:DOX Documentary Film Festival 2017
  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2017


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