NEW YORK, March 5 (Xinhua) -- A documentary that centers on the cross-cultural experience of Chinese parachute students in the United States will hit theaters across the country in mid-March.
The film, MAINELAND, directed by award-winning filmmaker Miao Wang, will begin its nationwide rollout March 16 at the AMC Empire 25 in New York, with a digital release to follow on the Amazon Festival Stars platform.
"In my non-fiction filmmaking I seek the balance between pushing boundaries of the form through poetic and lyrical story telling, and illuminating the larger context of contemporary social issues," said Wang, who was born in Beijing and moved to the United States at age 13, in a statement on Monday.
MAINELAND is part two of Wang's trilogy of films (BEIJING TAXI was the first) looking at the changing sociocultural environment of contemporary China as well as engendering mutual understandings in U.S.-China relations.
It also questions the expectations that Chinese families and the students themselves have about America, the discrepancies they experience, and the conflict that arises as a result. It raises some important questions, including does studying abroad necessarily guarantee a better life for them? How will an overseas perspective change a new generation of young Chinese and what may be that lasting impact be on the future of China and the world? Could they perhaps eventually become part of a bridge across the cultural divide?
"These are questions I hope to leave with the audience at the end of the film," Wang said.
MAINELAND won a Special Jury Award for Excellence in Observational Cinema at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals in 2017.
Shot over three years in China and the United States, the film follows two Chinese teenagers -- Stella and Harry who are part of the enormous wave of "parachute students" from Chinese mainland enrolling in U.S. private schools. It tells a multi-layered coming-of-age tale, following this buoyant, fun-loving girl and introspective boy as they settle into a boarding school in blue-collar small-town rural Maine, the northeasternmost U.S. state.
They come seeking a Western-style education, escape from the dreaded Chinese college entrance exam, and the promise of a Hollywood-style U.S. high school experience. As their fuzzy visions of the American dream slowly gain more clarity, they ruminate on their experiences of alienation, culture clash, and personal identity, sharing new understandings and poignant discourses on home and country.
Over 370,000 students from Chinese mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities - six times more than a decade ago - with 11.4 billion U.S. dollars contributed to the American economy.