Anyone who has ever immersed themselves in Eastern cultures cannot escape the word “Ki” (or originally from Chinese “Qi”). This word is usually translated as universal life energy, life force, vital energy, energy. Ki is the active creative force that makes the world function: “if there is Ki, there is life; if there is no Ki, there is death. ” This rather abstract concept is beautifully explained in the film “Ki” (2015), one of six short films from the Cinekid 2015 “Now or Never!” Project, which discusses themes from today’s multicultural society. “Ki” was directed by Meikeminne Clinckspoor and revolves around a girl who has to learn to deal with the fact that her older sister is no longer around.
“Ki” opens with seven-year-old Yuki (Emily Amano van Baaren), who is watching a samurai film hidden in a blue hooded sweater, mesmerized. Her father (Mike Meijer) orders her to sit down at the table to eat, something that Yuki does reluctantly. When she sees that there are only three plates, glasses and cutlery sets, she resolutely steps over to the cupboard to also equip the empty place at the table with eating and drinking utensils. Her mother (Makiko Ito) gets angry about that. “Your sister is no longer here”, it sounds. And that’s something Yuki doesn’t want to give in to. She retires to a cabin in her room and falls asleep. Then something special happens: together with her deceased eleven-year-old sister Iwa (Mariko Amano van Baaren), Yuki ends up in a dream; together they experience an exciting adventure. Yuki is forced to put her fears aside and face what she fears most: life without having to face her sister.
“Ki” is a special film in many ways. It is not easy to make themes such as death and bereavement appealing and accessible to children between the ages of seven and twelve. In addition, the story is also poured into a sauce of Asian spirituality and it is full of symbolism. But director Clinckspoor and her team succeed in a tremendous way in making the viewer part of the experience of the young Yuki. Great strength lies in the locations, decoration, lighting and especially the camera work. The dreamy scenes in an idyllic forest area, in which Yuki and Iwa confront the samurai, are beautifully shot and breathtakingly beautiful. The fact that the two young protagonists are also sisters in real life is clearly visible in the chemistry they have together. Bereavement has seldom been portrayed more poetically, especially in a youth film!