'All You Need is Love': Film Review
Stuart Cameron's documentary profiles Thailand's Good Morning School, which provides education to displaced Burmese children
Its name may sound idyllic, but the Good Morning School located in the town of Mae Sot, Thailand faces formidable challenges. They're chronicled in Stuart Cameron's generically titled documentary about this ramshackle institution attempting to serve the needs of displaced Burmese children who have been forced from their homeland thanks to its government's repressive policies. Offering glimmers of hope, All You Need is Love is clearly a labor of love for its filmmaker and executive producer, actress Suzy Amis Cameron (no relation), a co-founder of the MUSE School, CA.
Some 30,000 children, many of them orphaned, live in Mae Sot and other towns along the Burma-Thai border. Most of them have no legal status, with the result that they have no access to the Thai public school system.
The film's heroine is Paw Ray, a Burmese teacher and refugee who in 1986 started the first of what would become a network of some 50 schools in the region. Not surprisingly, the Good Morning School, like the others, struggles with a lack of funds, as illustrated by its tiny "school bus" that crams in its young riders as if they were in a clown car.
Narrated in soothingly maternal tones by Sigourney Weaver, the film depicts the day-to-day lives of the students, who cope with problems both typical (bullying) and endemic to the region (the ever-present threat of child sex trafficking). But despite their impoverished conditions they generally demonstrate typically youthful good humor, embracing their studies and participating in such extracurricular activities as taking care of a litter of piglets.
Although it touches on such events as the building of a new school building to replace the dilapidated old one, the film doesn't have much of a narrative. It instead offers a fly-on-the-wall portrait that provides a vivid reminder that children around the world don't have it nearly as lucky as those in America, with the daunting, UNICEF-provided statistics delivered at the end hopefully inciting a spur to action.
Production: Portfolio Productions
Director: Stuart Cameron
Producers: Stuart Cameron, Meddy Ezrah Ortega
Executive producers: Suzy Amis Cameron, Patrick Dunn, Stu Higton, Stuart Cameron
Narrator: Sigourney Weaver
Director of photography: Kev Robertson
Editor: John Kerry
Composer: Edward White
No rating, 78 minutes