HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Video Librarian | BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - DisOrient Asian American Film Festival | AUDIENCE AWARD - Asian American International Film FestivalAsian American Studies • Arts & Performance Studies • Children, Youth & Families • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Engagement • Education & Educational Equity • Race, Culture & Ethnic Studies • Social Work
Date of Completion: 2020 | Run Time: 68 minutes | Language: English and Mandarin with English subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Discussion Guide & Transcript | Directors & Producers: Hui Tong and Kelly Ng | Unavailable to China
In America, every child of immigrants has an assimilation story, but not all of them involve being actors in a student adaptation of the hit musical Frozen. In New York City's Chinatown, the elementary school theater club of PS 124 prepares to stage a production of Frozen Kids. As these Asian American students gear up and rehearse for their big musical production with nervous excitement, they also contend with cultural stereotypes, family expectations, post-graduation uncertainties and the pressures that come with being young and bi-cultural. Through rehearsals and time behind the scenes, the students unveil their dilemmas with honesty, humor and insight. CURTAIN UP! shares a kids-eye view of identity, culture and the heartbreaks that come with growing up.
Highly Recommended "This joyful production works as both entertainment for adults and youthful audiences and potential discussion material about the role of arts in schools, diversity, inclusion, and family expectations."
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Brandon West, Social Sciences Librarian, State University of New York at Geneseo
"There is plenty of depth to this whimsical documentary and it creates opportunities for discussion about the role of arts in education and disparities faced by marginalized communities. In addition to general viewing, the film would be useful in supporting the curriculum of education and diversity programs. These reasons make it a great addition to library collections."
School Library Journal | Recommended DVS for Elementary, Middle School, and High School Classrooms
"Lessons for dealing with disappointment, the value of hard work, and remaining gracious under stress are baked into the film.
Ethnomusicology Vol. 66, No. 3 | Reviewed by Deborah Wong, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Riverside
"This thought-provoking, intelligent, and often charming film will be useful for classes in a range of courses, and I look forward to assigning it in both my Asian American music course and my US popular music course."
“These kids aren’t shown to the viewers as 'others' or 'outliers,' they are shown as kids, who also happen to be Asian American ... For fellow Asian Americans, the film acts as a form of representation, for others an insight into the struggles that immigrants and minorities face every day ... Hui Tong and Kelly Ng build a documentary that manages to uplift an oft-forgotten group while also showing us that being a kid is complicated, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.”
Buttered Popcorn Movies
“Even in one of the strongest years for the documentary genre of all time, Curtain Up! stands out as one of the freshest and enjoyable documentaries of the year. Not only does the film have the fun and charisma to be one of the funniest films of the year, but the depth and nuance enhance the material, pushing the feature to the next level. This is an expertly crafted and brutally honest film that deserves to be seen by as many as possible.”
“The underlying message is the importance of the arts in education across the board ... A job like this takes patience, long hours, and not much of an impact on the old salary. The rewards, though, are priceless ... Remove the message of school funding of the arts and strict cultural expectations, and the joy of Curtain Up! is watching kids put on a musical. These students are here to have fun and couldn’t care less about the political and familial drama ...Tong and Ng weave together a fun documentary and puts the spotlight on a few of the kids. "
South China Morning Post
"The film Curtain Up! shows how they deal with being pulled in different directions by family and society, and how acting helps them overcome a certain cultural mindset."
Best Documentary Feature | DisOrient Asian American Film Festival
Emerging Filmmakers’ Award | Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Audience Choice Award | Asian American International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award | Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Audience Choice Award | DisOrient Asian American Film Festival
New York International Children’s Film Festival
San Diego Asian Film Festival
Vancouver Asian Film Festival
DC Chinese Film Festival
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Seattle Asian American Film Festival
DisOrient Asian American Film Festival
Columbia Journalism School
Columbia University School of Social Work
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH HUI TONG
Director & Producer of CURTAIN UP!
Hui Tong is a documentary filmmaker from Beijing and currently based in Beijing. Six years ago he came to the U.S. for college and developed a strong interest in the intersection of history, arts, and identity. He studied history at Cornell University and documentary filmmaking at Columbia Journalism School. He has been making narrative and documentary shorts since high school, and in writing covered Asian American identity issues. Curtain Up! is his first feature-length documentary. He has just finished his first book on the issue of identity, through the lenses of Asian American, Chinese American, mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese students.
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH KELLY NG
Director and Producer of CURTAIN UP!
Kelly Ng is a multimedia journalist from Singapore drawn particularly to stories on minority communities, education and mental health. Her stories have been published on The Atlantic, NBC, and South China Morning Post, among others. Curtain Up! is her filmmaking debut. Working on this documentary has made her consider more deeply what it means to be Singaporean by nationality, while ethnically Chinese. She is currently a correspondent at Singapore's The Business Times and continues to work on documentaries outside of her job at the paper.