Special Screening: "A CLASS OF THEIR OWN"
followed by a Q&A with director Haryun Kim (in English)
Tuesday, July 15 at 7 pm
In Chinese with English subtitles
UK, China 2013 85 minutes
Film courtesy of Summer Lotus Films
After moving to Guangzhou, China in 2008, Haryun Kim was struck by the contrast between the lives of the city's many migrant workers and the gleaming metropolis they were building. She began taking photos of their neighborhoods and then, as her Chinese-language skills improved, making friends with some of the mothers and their children. She quickly learned that the children’s access to education was under siege from the country’s "hukou" household registration, which excludes migrant children from public education in its urban areas.
The nation's economic boom has created a constant stream of job-seekers to its cities, bringing with them more than 20 million children. Denied access to China's free education without a local hukou, they are forced to attend informal private schools called "minban" - unregulated enterprises that fill the gap in the market. Despite costing up to a third of a migrant family's monthly salary, there are no guidelines governing the teaching standards or facilities at these schools, which are often woefully poor.
Kim spent a year crafting this breathtakingly intimate portrait of three migrant worker children during their final year in a minban, after which they must choose between staying in the city - where the cost of their continued education is often too large a burden on their parents - or leaving their parents to return to the countryside. There is final, more odious option: to enter the underground child workforce at the age of only 14.
The Beijing government recently decided to shut down minban schools in the capital due to safety concerns, leaving migrant children with no schooling and no alternatives. Although Guangzhou has not announced its own plans, provincial governments usually follow the capital's lead.
"A Class of Their Own" reveals the devastating truth about the growing education underclass in China, even as its young subjects - and several devoted minban teachers - captivate us with their candor.
Please join us for this special screening of "A Class of Their Own" before the film begins its international festival journey.
For the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmdy2UXSmMM
Producer-director-cinematographer HARYUN KIM made her first film, "Voice of Migrant Workers" (2002) in her native Korea, before attending the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, where she received an MA in Social Anthropology. She then studied documentary at the National Film and TV School, and relocated with her family to China from 2008 – 2013. She completed a project in rural Gansu in 2008, and her first feature documentary, "A Class of Their Own," in 2013. Now based in Tokyo, her enduring dream is to "tell sincere human stories that champion the voices of those who would otherwise never be heard."
Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All movie screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.
- Karen Severns, Movie Committee