I went with my mom to see two films at the CAAM Fest in Japantown this weekend. I haven’t gone to the film fest in years, and was eager to check out what was going on. Back in college, I volunteered at the film fest, and got to watch a lot of the films which was fun. Of course, at the time, I didn’t think it was that cool. But, now that I am older, and more mature haha, my views on things have changed a bit.
It didn’t take me too long to pick which films I wanted to see. Two stood out to me right away, and so that was that. Beijing will always be my home away from home, and as funky as the city is, and isn’t, it will always have a piece of my heart. The Road to Fame was a film I wanted to check out because it was about China, and also about the new generation of Chinese kids.
I really did not know what to expect from the film, mainly because it was a documentary, and I wasn’t sure what kind of angle the director was going to use in telling this story. As an only child myself, I know that I am spoiled, and I also know that my parents would do anything to make sure I am happy and safe.
The Road to Fame is a coming-of-age story. The film chronicles the staging of the American musical Fame—China’s first official collaboration with Broadway—by the senior class at China’s top drama academy as their graduation showcase. The whole process lasts about 8 months, and in the film you watch as five students compete for roles, struggle with pressure from family and authority, and prepare to graduate. Many of the students come from affluent backgrounds, while others do not have the luxury of family connections and money. And of course, all the students deal with the reality that after graduation, they may have trouble finding work.
Living and working in Beijing, I met many people who were only children, and noticed that they had similar attitudes to the students in the film. Because their parents give them everything, a lot of my co-workers were a bit selfish, and did not deal with stress well. They also talked about money like it was nothing, and could solve any problem. Guanxi really is the only way to get any where in China, and many of their parents had a lot of connections. As an American, I did not have any connections really, and had to figure out how to live in China by myself. I did not have anyone help me try to deal with problems I came across, and had to move around, and manage by myself most of the time. Beijing is such a big city, and it is a city where you can lose yourself, or become someone you don’t even recognize. The youth of China now are wanting to live their dreams, and also many do not understand the China of the past, and believe that their parents do not understand them. But, that’s basically how it is here in the States as well. Young people always think they know everything, want everything now, and think their parents are backwards and not cool. I can talk about this forever, but I think I will end it here for now. The Road to Fame was a brilliant documentary, and I hope that it will show on PBS soon. Check it out if you have the chance.