Maineland is a terrific documentary by Miao Wang.
You can view the trailer here.
Jiayang Fan contributes a thoughtful review here. She writes:
The beauty of “Maineland” is in its depiction of the predictable arc of the foreign student’s experience—the way Stella anxiously monitors her grades, and how other kids ask the embarrassed Harry to say random things in Chinese—and in its burrowing underneath it.
In one of the movie’s most touching scenes, which takes place in a documentary-making class, a group of Chinese students makes a short film about common perceptions of Asians. Huddled around a screen, the Chinese students intently watch the playback as they are described by fellow American students as hardworking, respectful, shy, and smart.
“Is any of it true?” the teacher asks. The students look at one another, not speaking at first. Then a young woman says, “Most of it,” and another student corrects her: “All of it is true.” A third student, wearing square-framed glasses, adds, “Maybe they think Asians are kind of strange . . . When they talk to you, they don’t look at your eyes.”
“Why is that?” the teacher asks.
“Because we are nervous,” the young woman says.
“We’re afraid,” the bespectacled student adds.
“Of what?” the teacher asks.
“Making mistake,” the young woman responds.
Many Chinese kids correctly sense that they are brought to certain American or British schools because their parents pay full price. They don’t feel valued as kids.
I think there are opportunities to better help all kids who come to the USA for school.
I helped create a short video about Josephine, a Kenyan student who is on full scholarship to an American boarding school.
My struggles just in making the short video makes me better appreciate Miao’s skill in creating a full-length tale like Maineland.
Which reminds me, Josephine arrives tomorrow for spring break with us, from Georgia. I need to stock up on her favorite snack: potato chips!