The heroine of the children's film De Bal is eleven-year-old Sophia, who doesn't understand why her father does not live with her. She creates a fantasy world in which she idolizes her dad as a soccer star. But her mother gently explains he's not a soccer star, but an Italian who misses his country so much he cannot live in Belgium. Sophia's favorite place in the industrial town where she lives is a former park, where she spends her spare time with her only friend, a stray dog called Mingus. Recently, the park has been used for dumping unwanted stuff, and the mayor wants to send a bulldozer and seal it with concrete. A gypsy lends Sophia a magic ball for three days, telling her that it can be a good friend, but she must be careful not to make it jealous. The ball can do many things, including chasing the mayor's man off the parkland. Because of the ball, Sophia begins to get attention, and is even accepted into the boys' gang. But the mayor's men confiscate the ball. With the aid of the gang, she manages to get her ball back, but as soon as one of the boys becomes interested in Sophia, the ball gets jealous. Bulldozers arrive to demolish the park, and the gypsy returns to get back his ball. He tells Sophia she does not need magic to save the park, and fired with fresh enthusiasm, Sophia mobilizes the children to face the mayor. The story is encouraging for children who are lonely and lack self-confidence, and also delivers a sound ecological message. De Bal was screened as part of the Children's Film festival at the 49th International Berlin Film Festival, 1999.
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