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Witness

The Kid and the Clown

An emotionally powerful story of a six-year-old battling cancer, showing that laughter really is the best medicine.

Last updated: 16 May 2013 13:02
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Angus the clown works in the children's oncology department of a teaching hospital in Denmark. He tries to make the children laugh, immersed as they are in a world of injections, drips and chemo treatments.

This powerful film follows a year and a half in the life of six-year-old Tobias, who is battling cancer, and during his time in the hospital is cheered by Angus.

While Tobias struggles with cancer, Angus battles with the fear that strikes many children and their parents over the course of intensive treatments.

Angus is convinced that humour increases the chance of the treatment's success and a speedy recovery.

Filmmaker's view 

By Ida Gron

On a universal level, The Kid and the Clown celebrates the importance of friendship, compassion and humour. It also celebrates overcoming boundaries by observing the effect of these elements when lives are at stake.

However, rather than focusing on a serious illness, this film is about the importance of qualitative values in general.

When I first heard of the existence of 'hospital clowns', I was deeply touched. It seemed truly meaningful to 'infect' children with joy, warmth and humour during their hospital stay - a time where they are cut off from any semblance of a normal childhood.

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My own upbringing was, in a special way, affected by humour during difficult times, therefore, I understood the therapeutic value of laughter as a tool in the hospital. When my mother fell seriously ill with cancer, it was laughter that got me through that time. It did not replace deep conversations, but worked as a release, a breathing space in which we could be healthy.

It was for this reason that I, as a relatively new filmmaker, contacted Angus - the hospital clown. He is known as one of Denmark’s most skilled hospital clowns and since 2001 he has been working in some of the saddest places - including children’s cancer wards.

We followed Angus’s work through his interaction with one cancer patient, Tobias, and witnessed the development of their relationship as they became best friends.

Through their relationship, I hoped to make a thought-provoking film where the audience themselves could see how Angus’s warm presence affected the young patients and their families.

Following Angus and Tobias through the worst and best times of times, I tried to give the audience a feeling of closeness to the characters and to convey the feeling of unspoken affection between them.

The entire film was shot within the confines of the hospital. I hoped this would demonstrate the claustrophobia that comes with long-term hospitalisation. It is in this context, that Angus is seen as a magical breath, giving life-saving oxygen to the children.

Being a hospital clown is an almost invisible art, and therefore difficult to capture on camera. Only about 10 percent of the job is about performing magic tricks and making balloon animals, the rest is about changing the child’s focus from pain into something positive or just being there without an agenda.

The film gives an insight into our universal need to touch each other through humour, and to encourage people to share a common space through laughter.

Click here for more Witness films.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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