Kay Pollack’s 1980 film Children’s Island, opens with a shot of a typical, drab Stockholm bathroom. The camera pans in and we see there is a person in the tub, floating fetal-like in the water. The body appears sexless. We don’t even know if the person is alive. The camera hangs over it for a while. Then a boy bursts out of the water, panting, shouting that it’s a personal record for holding his breath under water.
The boy is Reine. He is 11, going on 12, and this, in his words, is his, “last summer as a child.” He performs a daily check for signs of puberty, and when he finds none, states, “One more day to live.” Reine’s mother had planned on sending him to summer camp on Barnens Ö (Children’s Island in English). But she is busy and distracted, so is easily outfoxed by Reine who decides to stay alone in the city instead. There he floats around the empty streets, befriending the freaks and outlaws who are still in town. (Everyone else has gone to the countryside.)
Children’s Island is somewhat similar to The Girl, which screened at the beginning of the film series. A portrait of a child left to its own devices, on the brink of adolescence, amidst a sea of self-absorbed adults. Here too the world of adult sexuality seems sinister and creepy. Reine swears to never become a slave to horniness, which is how he envisions adulthood. Over the course of the movie Reine slips further and further into the outskirts of society and along the way, to his horror, experiences his sexual awakening.