Panorama | Youth | Documentaries
Maine, USA meets Mainland China in this lively look at high school hopes and dreams. Miao Wang’s doc brings us from East to West as she examines Freyburg Academy, an American boarding school known for its international inclusiveness. Each year the school takes in many students from Asian nations, China foremost among them. Wang follows expat teens Harry and Stella as they negotiate their way through a new culture and new ways of learning; she also zooms out for a wider examination of school and teen culture.
Chock-full of beautiful detail courtesy of ace cinematographer Sean Price Williams, the movie is as energetic as it is reflective. Wang has an eye for telling details, and she sure knows how to move things along, zipping through family relationships, classroom dynamics, cultural confusion and much more without ever shortchanging their complexities. Harry, Stella and their new friends are uncertain about a lot of things: their futures, first and foremost, but also much of what makes up their present-day lives. God knows, it’s tough enough being a teenager; being immersed in a foreign country while you’re still figuring out who you are brings a whole other level of difficulty to the game. Above all else, it’s this sense of challenge that makes the film such compelling viewing.
"Serves to remind audiences of the power, and beauty, in differences."—Jessi Cape, Austin Chronicle
Special Jury Award, SXSW 17