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Paper Words

2010
Distributed by Rising Chimera Productions, 740A 14th St., #377, San Francisco, CA 94114
Produced by Joyce Lee
Directed by Joyce Lee
DVD, color, 27 min.
College-General Adult
Animation, Asian Studies, Education, Teacher Training


Reviewed by Mary Northrup, Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, Kansas City, Missouri

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 6/25/2012

This film explores the immigrant experience from the point of view of five-year-old Mei, newly arrived from China with her mother and brother. At her new school, Mei does not join in activities, but watches everything from a corner. To the increasing frustration of her teacher, classmates, and mother, Mei does not seem to want to even try to participate in activities with the other children because of the language barrier.

Beautiful colors and the clarity of the animated figures give this film an almost 3-D aspect. Rich browns and oranges, bright pinks and yellows, and soothing blues and tans create a rich tapestry of visual harmony. Original background music provides a suitable sound without overpowering the dialogue. When Mei and her family members speak, English subtitles appear.

Based on director Joyce Leeís childhood experiences, the film captures the young girlís emotions and lets the viewer experience her feeling of not fitting in. A flashback to a former teacher with a stick explains Meiís fear of her current teacherís stick, even though it is not used as punishment. A dream sequence which features dresses floating in trees brings out Meiís vivid imagination. These and other situations heighten the emotional appeal of the film.

Even if not an immigrant, a viewer can relate to Meiís feelings of not being understood, being ashamed, and the security of home. Although the main character is a child, this film is not for young children, but rather for adults who may be working with immigrant children or ESL students. College students in the field of education would probably be the prime audience.

An added feature on the DVD is Behind the Scenes, in which Joyce Lee talks about her experiences as a child and the animation process is explained.