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INFINITE TENDERNESS

France, 1969 (MIFF 1975)

Director: Pierre Jallaud

Two handicapped children, Emanuel and Simon, are unable to walk or talk. But they develop a friendship with each other, communicating only by facial expressions, smiles and inarticulate sounds. The relationship transforms the children: their emotional life is awakened, and becomes full and complex. When the children are finally parted, Simon has become capable of accepting his isolation.

The roles of Emanuel and Simon are not played by actors, but by children suffering the same disabilities as the characters in the film. They were aged 10 and 11, and although they could not speak or walk, their intelligence was unimpaired. Throughout the making of the film, the children responded in ways that paralleled the development of the characters.

Six months after the shooting of Ihe film, the children were separated for medical reasons. Now, 5 years later, Simon can walk reasonably well; he can type and fit into some kind of social life. Emanuel has not developed in the same way, yet the director is convinced that he is highly intelligent.

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