NYICFF Movie Spotlight - Curtain Up!

Image from New York International Children's Film Festival


Taking a break from the animated, fictional films at New York International Children's Film Festival, I took the chance to screen a documentary.  Curtain Up follows at 5th grade class as PS 124 in New York City as they prepare for their upcoming musical production.  Filmed in English with Mandarin subtitles, the students in the film wrestle with their own insecurities, cultural stereotypes, family expectations, and, you know, being kids!  


Curtain Up - Movie Review


Image from New York International Children's Film Festival


As a lifelong educator, this movie touched me quite a bit.  The documentary follows 4th and 5th graders at PS 124 in New York City as the theater club works on a production of Frozen Kids.  Throughout the movie, there are several things that jumped out me.  First, the film serves as a great reminder of the power of educators.  In the documentary, the role of the principal and teachers in believing in these kids and seeing possibilities and potential to break expectations and stereotypes is what really sets the stage for the success story that is what these kids are able to accomplish.

The documentary also takes a deeper look into the families of the students and cultural expectations.  Through interviews with the parents and kids together, you get insight into why theater is not something traditionally looked at as an option for Asian American kids and how these kids are truly shattering stereotypes.  There's also the experience that is captured in the documentary that is universal to late elementary school students - that coming of age time where they are wrestling with their own expectations, their families expectations, and what their peers think as well.

Curtain Up is a great documentary to inspire and uplift!


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About Curtain Up (From NYICFF)


Image from New York International Children's Film Festival


All energy and opinion, 5th grader William seems excited to burst beyond his constraints, while his classmate Charlotte, a measured thinker, admits that sometimes it's easier to be scared than happy. But both students adore their theater class and are set to have a transformative final year of elementary school. This award-winning documentary follows a 5th grade class at PS 124 in New York City's Chinatown as they prepare for a big musical production of "Frozen Kids" and begin to discover their identities. Behind the scenes, nervous excitement and flubbed lines goofiness brushes up against stereotypes, family expectations, and post-graduation uncertainties. Through rehearsing for this American favorite, the young actors grapple with their Asian roots. Will they have to let something go?