Welcoming 2022

Teen Editorial Staff January 2022 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Member Triona Suiter and Lucia McLaren

Jan Editorial

2022 will be another year of firsts—some good, some bad, but hopefully enough to get us on the right track. It can be difficult to face yet another wave of uncertainty, but if nothing else, we here at TeenTix know that the art world will continue to flourish. Be it film, theater, music, or whatever else gets your creativity flowing, join us as we start the new year off with pieces from across the state.

Feeling like heading back to the stage this January? If you’re looking for something to make you laugh, come and watch See How They Run at Taproot Theatre Company, a lighthearted comedy about how one woman’s night out on the town can turn to mayhem. Or if you have an animal companion at home and want to see a creative take on their shades of morality, take a look at Animal Saints & Animal Sinners 3 at 18th & Union. For those who like a touch more realism, ACT presents Hotter Than Egypt, a dramedy (drama-comedy) that follows two American tourists and their two Egyptian tour guides. And for anyone interested in historical activism, Seattle Rep’s one-woman musical Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer is sure to be a hit.

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Fall 21: Whim W’Him’s Unique Explorations of Liminality

Review of Fall 21 by Whim W'Him

Written by Teen Editor Triona Suiter and edited by Teen Editor Valentine Wulf

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As we move into the shorter days, Whim W’Him opens their season with their annual Fall Showcase, this year featuring “Nova” by Alice Klock and Florian Lochner, “Underlove” by Mark Castera, and “E=16-0163-TSX” by Rena Butler. Presented as both live performances and as films on Whim W’Him’s streaming platform IN-With-WHIM, these three dances traverse the lands of unreality in ways that manage to hit startlingly close to true.

(The following is a review of the films only, not the live performances.)

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Celebrate the Holidays with Art

Teen Editorial Staff November 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Esha Potharaju and Triona Suiter

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As we settle into the cozy fall weather, November beckons a slew of holiday celebrations. One way to get into the spirit is by enjoying some good old art, maybe to bond with a loved one you haven’t caught up with in almost two years, or maybe to treat yourself on a solitary afternoon. In the coming month, the TeenTix Newsroom will be hurtling through ballet shows, film classes, timeless plays, and holiday thrillers—and we hope you can join us in the journey.

To kick off the month right away with a healthy dose of feminism, we highly recommend checking out From Heartthrob to Movie Star at SIFF on November 4th. This virtual class focuses on the power of stories written specifically for a female audience and the importance of continuing to tell these stories despite the film industry’s increasing disregard for their value. Or, if you’re interested in female empowerment but want something a little more self-guided, Henry Art Gallery is hosting Diana Al-Hadid’s Archive of Longings exhibition, which will showcase sculptures exploring the natural world, Syrian and Muslim histories, and the female body.

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Film as a Medium for Change at Local Sightings Film Festival

Review of Local Sightings Film Festival presented by Northwest Film Forum
Written by Teen Writer Stella Crouch and edited by Teen Editorial Staff

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The Local Sightings Film Festival is continuing to thrive in its 24th year. It is the only film festival in Seattle dedicated to Pacific Northwest films. The Northwest Film Forum was founded in 1995. It has kept Seattle’s film culture alive through its countless festivals, even through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Local Sightings Film Festival was held entirely online and now this year’s has been held hybrid, showing films both in person and in a virtual, COVID-safe manner. This year's festival has shown a wide array of genres and narratives with their only commonality being their connection to the Pacific Northwest. Regardless of their many differences they all feel as though they belong and there is something for everyone to appreciate.

Occupying the Megalopolis

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Witnessing Human Vulnerability Through an Insightful Polish Production

Review of Never Gonna Snow Again presented by SIFF
Written by Teen Writer Malak Kassem and edited by Teen Editor Valentine Wulf

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Never Gonna Snow Again is a Polish production directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert. The film emphasizes hardship, the challenge to accept personal flaws, and the battle to be one’s best self. Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) is a Ukrainian masseur who works in Poland. He gives massages that have radioactive powers, which work against high stress, exhaustion, and short-term depression by casting a spell and instantly putting patients to sleep, which is followed by great relief from the individual. Zhenia’s skills and powers are demanding in this uniformed, isolated town where houses are identical, door bells have the same tune, and the sky is never blue. The neighborhood lacks vibrancy, color, and driven individuals. Except for the sounds of clocks ticking in dining rooms and barking dogs going for walks, the neighborhood is hushed. The combination of lighting, sound, and the actors’ dull tones create an eerie atmosphere.Actors are in character and are in sync with one another. They live realistically within their roles. Never Gonna Snow Again’s characters are portrayed in a subtle and mysterious manner. Characters have an analytical mindset and are direct with the expression of their inner thoughts when it comes to their personal struggle and depression, especially around Zhenia. The people in this town are shameless and awkward in their interactions. Film still from Never Gonna Snow Again, directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert

Szumowska and Englert represent how the concept of internal struggle appears differently depending on the personality it affects. Zhenia had his own struggles and trauma. Zhenia is portrayed as a therapist, proving that therapists, counselors, and the people we rely on have their own stories too. A person behind closed doors is different from how they may seem in public. Everyone makes an enormous effort to represent their best selves in public spaces and platforms. It is not a coincidence that Zhenia refuses to be seen as an emotionally broken person except during this one instance, when he had drinks with the gatekeeper who is also Ukrainian. Perhaps Szumowska and Englert believe that it is only natural that people feel more comfortable around those who come from the same background, especially on foreign land. Immigrants and foreigners tend to create micro-communities to build a safe, gated, and trusted space for each other. Zhenia creates a bold, charming, and reliable image for himself which lures his patients to unfold and reveal their weaknesses in his company. Ironically, he is Ukrainian and they are Polish, going against the theory of trusting those from similar backgrounds. Zhenia is a one-way valve to vulnerability. Though he refuses to express vulnerability to others, they find him to be a confidant. The film highlighted some important motifs that are present in the real world that society tends to overlook, such as internal struggle, overcoming personal flaws, the challenge of living on foreign land, the importance of expressing yourself, societal pressures, the ugliness of the truth, and the realization that being hidden is better for your public image. The sun's lack of appearance in the movie symbolizes that happiness doesn’t follow people, but that people destined to be happy are the ones that go find it. Despite the film’s thoughtful ideas and messages, at times it was repetitive, and many scenes were predictable. There were some scenes that felt empty, and the movie would have been better without them. The story line was vague and there wasn’t a hook that had me at the edge of my seat. More dialogue and action could have improved the piece. Overall, Never Gonna Snow Again is a well thought out film with intriguing themes, but the slow pacing makes it hard to sit through. A short film could have gotten the same message across while keeping it engaging.

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Back in School, Back in Business

Teen Editorial Staff September 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Disha Cattamanchi and Lucia McLaren

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While 2021 renews the all-too-familiar challenges of last year, it also brings something a bit more hopeful: a fall season full of new opportunities. The pandemic may not be defeated, but we are learning to adapt and minimize its spread, which means (you guessed it!) in-person events are returning. So as students pack their bags for the semester and the weather gets cooler, look to see what art we’re reviewing this September.

If starting school again makes you want to get on your feet and dance, then going to an in-person dance event may be just for you. Let ‘im Move You: This is a Formation, a contemporary dance performance at On the Boards utilizes themes of Black Femme and queerness to tell a vivid portrayal through dance. Whim W’Him is also presenting exciting performances with Fall 21 to get your spirits running high and ready for school. If dance isn’t what you’re looking for, you’re in luck. TeenTix LA has recently expanded to LA, and we will be are featuring the TeenTix LA staff to learn about the arts landscape in LA and what it’s been like to open a new branch of TeenTix.

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Using Film as a Lens for History: Two Views on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Review of Metropolis

Written by Teen Writer Yoon Lee and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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The 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis is among the most influential films to ever exist, spawning discussion and setting standards that would influence the entire science fiction genre going forward. However, as is the case for any near-century-old film, many aspects are impossible to address without considering the historical context of its creation. As such, interpretations of this film from any time period can be an opportunity to further understand its context, and the viewpoints of those that viewed it in its prime. Among the best ways to pursue this opportunity is to view the reviews and critiques by audiences of the time. Of the multitude of high-profile figures that viewed and spouted their (often disapproving) takes on “Metropolis,” among them prolific science fiction author H. G. Wells, an often overlooked 1929 review is that of Shim Hun. This oversight is both due to the non-Western nature of the review, being written by a Korean, and due to Shim being an author targeted by Imperial Japanese censorship and subjugation.

Metropolis is a German science-fiction drama that presents a futuristic utopia existing above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated downtrodden workers. When the privileged Freder discovers the poor, and often fatal, conditions under the city, he becomes intent on helping the workers. He befriends the rebellious teacher Maria, who preaches to the workers of Metropolis, but this puts him at odds with his authoritative father Fredersen, master of Metropolis. Fredersen seeks out the deranged genius Rotwang to impersonate Maria so that the workers can be fooled and controlled. Brigitte Helm in Metropolis, 1927.

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Bringing Joy In June

Teen Editorial Staff June 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Eleanor Cenname and Triona Suiter

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Take a deep breath. We’ll do it with you: in… and out. You have made it to June, and we are so proud of you. Whether you are a student and are nearing summer break or are working, take a moment this month to step back and breathe. When we think about summer, we might associate it with the beach or the pool. Proximity to water has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. This is called the Blue Mind Theory. So as we enjoy this warmer and sunnier month, we can take a moment to let the water that surrounds us here in Seattle carry away a bit of our stress. Another way that we can take breaks this month is through art. We have an exciting list of events for June that we hope will bring as much joy to you as they do to us.

Tune in on the 10th for a virtual presentation from Dr. Temple Grandin at Town Hall, discussing science, curiosity, and her new book. Check out Seattle Shakespeare’s Romeo y Julieta, a multilingual adaptation of the classic star-crossed lovers story. Spend some time exploring Seattle Public Theater’s HUE festival, a celebration of women playwrights of color and their creations. Tackle the truly absurd with The Doll Pit at Washington Ensemble Theatre, where Jody Kuehner spends an hour talking to herself--or rather, her iconic character Cherdonna Shinatra. Or, if you’re looking for something more visual, why not check out MoPOP’s Heroes and Villains exhibit, featuring over 70 iconic Disney costumes?

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The Reincarnations of Ellen Ripley: How Media Portrays Women

Review of What the Femme: The Evolution of Ellen Ripley, presented by SIFF

Written by Teen Writer Esha Potharaju and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

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***SPOILERS: This is a review of a class that analyzes the Alien film franchise using a feminist lens. As such, there are moments in both the class and review when the plot of the films is discussed in detail.

“I just had a thought. What would you think if Ripley was a woman? She would be the last one you would think would survive—she’s beautiful,” confessed Ridley Scott, the director of the cult classic sci-fi film, Alien. The lead character, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver), is lauded as a feminist icon. One of the first female action heroes, she is independent and undefined by the men around her. Anthony Hudson, horror fanatic and film programmer, walked us through the many facets of Ripley’s feminism in their lecture, "The Evolution of Ellen Ripley,” the latest installment in SIFF’s “What the Femme” series

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A Memorable May

Teen Editorial Staff May 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Lily Williamson and Mila Borowski

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The month of May has already provided both rainpours and blue skies, and in spirit with a month that really drives home the diversity of Seattle weather, we have a diverse array of art events to check out while hunkering down from seasonal showers. From a story about strong and dystopian heroines to an event highlighting the future of the music industry, the Newsroom will be reviewing events this month for every art enthusiast.

Curl up and listen to The Effluent Engine if you are in the mood to dive into a steampunk short story, read dramatically by Book-It Repertory Theater’s cast. Or, rather than hear about a fictional heroine, you can learn about Ellen Ripley’s feminist journey as evaluated through her roles in film at What The Femme: The Evolution of Ellen Ripley, a virtual class provided by SIFF.

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FutureWave: Connection Across Time and Space

Review of FutureWave, presented by SIFF

Written by Teen Writer Lark Keteyian and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

Sparring

As much as I enjoy seeing my peers' work showcased and celebrated, I'm often hesitant about grouping artists together just by their age because it suggests that young artists are all telling related stories. But in the case of SIFF's FutureWave series—seventy-five minutes of short films from artists under the age of eighteen—this categorization allowed me to approach the festival with a different critical eye than I would have applied to films by young artists mixed in with films by artists with more experience. I spend most of my time around young artists, and I've noticed that while our art is as compelling as art by adults, the work put into it is more visible because we’re often still sorting out how we want to tell our stories. The moments where this effort was present in the work of the young artists showcased at FutureWave were just as compelling for me as the moments that broke outside of their form and context to deliver beautiful, emotionally impactful scenes.

"Sparring", directed by Victor Xia, tells a stylized story about two relationships: the fractured, abusive one between a boy and his father, and the healing friendship between the boy and his friend. Both are built around cyclical violence, moving from the shock of the father hitting his son to an exceptionally beautiful scene that I will be thinking about for months to come: the boy boxing with his friend in slow-motion, the close shots moving with the boys' bodies, Simon Kwan's original score creating an intimate atmosphere out of the physical space between the actors. Xia is also a poet, and it shows—this three-minute film is concise and impactful, only using the shots it absolutely needs to get its deep and complex feelings across. "Looking Forward From Yesterday". Alexis Bigby. Courtesy of SIFF

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Night of the Kings: A Love Letter to Storytelling

Review of Night of the Kings, presented by

Written by Teen Writer Audrey Liepsna Gray and edited by Teen Editor Mila Borowski

NOTK Koné Bakary Courtesyof NEON

A slow-moving shot of a thick forest opens Night of the Kings, slowly panning up and revealing a massive penitentiary in the midst of the trees. Shouting voices fade in to join the gentle ones of the birds and cicadas, and the prison looks grey and imposing. The camera cuts to a distressed boy sitting in the back of a police truck, looking back and forth between the forest and the dingy prison wall on either side of him. It’s in these very first reels that we’re given a taste of Night of the Kings’ unique sensory atmosphere. The film intrigues our senses through its vivid depictions of the domain we’re pushed into, right from the beginning up until the end of the film. Rich colors, precise use of lighting, and ambient use of sound play important roles as the film establishes its environment in a way that felt more thoroughly brilliant the longer I watched.

Night of the Kings is a 2021 film written and directed by Philippe Lacôte. It begins with an introduction of La Maca, a prison ruled by its inmates with their own laws and customs. We follow a young new prisoner (Bakary Koné), who arrives at La Maca to turmoil inside. The Dangôro, leader of the inmates and sole authority within the microcosm, is old and sick, and tradition dictates that when the Dangôro is no longer able to lead, he must take his own life. The current Dangôro, Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), is being challenged and pressured from all sides to step down. In a pitch to bring peace to the prison on the night that he must die, he designates the newest inmate as the prison’s storyteller called the Roman. On the night of the red moon, the Roman must tell a story to last the hours of the night and keep his audience enraptured. If he doesn’t, he pays a price—in his own blood. It’s through the story he tells and the night’s events in the prison, coupled with expertly used sensory depictions, that we’re shown the complex world of the prison and the world outside it. It’s a place of vibrant color, expressive art, and a fascination with the fantastical and spiritual. As the bright day turns into a vivid and spiritual night, we can see the importance of storytelling to the inmates and the film’s attitude towards the art it depicts.

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April’s Showers and Flowers

Teen Editorial Staff April 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shulka and Lucia McLaren

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As vaccination rates rise, we can see the tail end of the pandemic on the horizon (knock on wood!). In this uncertainty-filled year, it's a huge relief to see improving conditions, though exercising caution is more important than ever. Still, warmer weather is peeking around the corner, and there's plenty of art and media for you to explore this month—no matter what you're looking for.

It’s no secret that the news has gotten everyone thinking about what comes next. For those interested in what life might look like in the future, look no further than Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports, a now in-person improv show. For those who prefer to see what teens envision the coming years to look like, check out SIFF’s Futurewave, an exciting lineup of movies and shorts curated for youth audiences.

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So Bad It’s Good: Celebrating Cinema’s Greatest Catastrophes

Review of So Bad It's Good presented by MoPOP

Written by Teen Writer Leyla Richter-Munger and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Not all films have to be good to be good. While I’ve seen my fair share of terrible movies over the years, I only recently discovered just how true this concept rings. About a month ago, out of COVID-related boredom, I stumbled upon the 2013 Neil Breen cult classic, Fateful Findings. What I watched was a one-hour-and-forty-minute dumpster fire of a film illustrating the sheer force of one man, one greenscreen, and zero plotline—and somehow, I could not tear myself away. Over the past several weeks (admittedly to the mild detriment of my grades), I’ve become a bit obsessed with these wonderfully awful films and now jump at the chance to share them with others. It was only natural that I would be immediately drawn to So Bad It’s Good.

MoPOP’s latest film series, So Bad It’s Good takes my innate human craving for terrible media and transforms it into a biweekly screening, where fellow awful movie lovers can come together to view and comment on cinematic catastrophes. Every other Saturday, So Bad It’s Good host Kasi Gaarenstroom teams up with the special guest of the week (who also happens to be a lover of the film in question) on Zoom to watch and discuss these truly horrible movies. Gaarenstroom starts off by introducing the film of the week and the guest (when I attended, it was the 1997 classic Anaconda accompanied by herpetologist Chelsea Connor) and then it’s straight into the film! Though you do have to provide the movie for yourself on your own device, there are several links to different streaming platforms with the film available in the chat, and even if you should experience tech difficulties at one point or another, the main screen during the viewing is a timer, so you can sync back up with the group.

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Cinematography and Fashion Redeem The Queen’s Gambit

Review of The Queen’s Gambit

Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff

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The Teen Editorial Staff teamed up to write mini-reviews of the popular Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit. Read on to enjoy these six different perspectives on what worked, what didn’t, and why it might still be worth a watch. Triona

The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix follows chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, as she navigates both the world of competitive chess and the general struggles of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Though some of Beth’s hardships feel simplified—no one gets over a lifelong drug addiction by just deciding to—the story is captivating nonetheless.

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Heathers: Distasteful and Violent or a Witty Take on High School Reality?

Review of Heathers

Written by several TeenTix Newsroom writers, edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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This month, three writers from the TeenTix Newsroom sat down to watch and discuss a dark comedy classic, the 1989 movie Heathers. The film follows a feared clique of teenagers all named Heather; Veronica, a girl who dreams of popularity; and an unstable school bomber named J.D. as they make their way through high school. Read on to learn what our teen writers think about this controversial film. Esha Potharaju

The bratty politics of high school cliques dashed with murder, Heathers might be a pretty accurate representation of what it’s like to be a teenager. The teenage mind tends to blow things out of proportion—in J.D.’s case, perhaps literally so. When your crush doesn’t like you, the whole world feels like it’s about to end. By capturing these overexaggerated feelings and twisting the whirlwind of high school into a dark tale, the film is actually quite relatable. It’s reassuring to see someone with similar circumstances take a dark path, because you know you can’t manage to do something worse than that despite all your embarrassments. So while there aren’t literally any Heather-cides taking place in the average school, the emotions that Heathers depicts aren’t too far off from that of the average teenager. But this morbid appeal of Heathers, viewed through the eyes of a watcher from 2021, is easily drowned out by the obvious problems: the film features homophobia, fatphobia, and dismissive attitudes towards eating disorders and suicide. It’s hard to ignore how different J.D.’s actions, particularly his casual use of a bomb in a school setting, would be interpreted if he wasn’t white. A classic, though rightfully not through the eyes of all, Heathers provides a dark kind of comfort to teenagers. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in Heathers © 1989 New World Pictures Frances Vonada

The edgy cult classic Heathers, directed by Michael Lehmann, holds a certain appeal for teens today, especially after the popular off-Broadway musical of the same name and the resurgence of ‘80s culture and fashion. Heathers is highly entertaining, upping the stakes of highschool popularity politics and taking the phrase “social suicide” to a new level. However, the characteristic violence and characters’ cavalier attitudes have not aged this movie well.

So many issues are treated with indifference in this film including school shootings and bombings, eating disorders, and suicide. The film is darkly humorous and intended to be satirical, but a bleak look at the world is not comforting right now.

I’m sure Heathers will always be appreciated by people with nostalgia for the ‘80s and those who like Mean Girls with more death, but it is not my cup of tea currently. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in Heathers © 1989 New World Pictures Kyle Gerstel

Although campier than an East Coast kid’s summer, Heathers is a brilliant black comedy that deserves to be studied just as much as To Kill A Mockingbird. Its fearless screenplay twists high school movie cliches into macabre messages both about teenage angst and society as a whole. Like Veronica accidentally falling into the dark schemes of J.D., the film reveals its satire in a way that allows the audience to enjoy the violence before realizing they’re part of the problem. While the film could’ve easily become “low art,” as many chick flicks and teen slasher films do, its witty balance of the creepy and comical makes the film a “killer” exploration of the teenage mind that maintains remarkable relevance and entertainment value today.

Lead photo credit: Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, and Kim Walker in Heathers 1989 New World Pictures

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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The Reason I Jump Combats Stereotypes of Autism

Review of The Reason I Jump presented by SIFF Cinema

Written by Teen Editor Anya Shukla and edited by TeenTix Teaching Artist Vivian Hua

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I’m not sure if I was overly emotional last Tuesday, but I started crying about five minutes into The Reason I Jump; the waterworks didn’t stop until the end of the hour-and-a-half-long movie. Each new beautifully-shot scene added new depth to my understanding of autism.

The film is based on the book of the same name by Naoki Higashida, a nonverbal autistic teenager from Japan. Directed by Jerry Rothwell, The Reason I Jump tells the story of five youth— Amrit, Joss, Ben, Emma, and Jessina—with autism. The movie strives to emulate the experience of living with autism, featuring crisp, detail-filled shots and a soundtrack with large amounts of ambient noise. The Reason I Jump also highlights lines from Naoki’s book, interspersed as voiceovers.

The Reason I Jump begins by telling the story of young Amrit and her mother, Aarti, both of whom live in India. Amrit’s story begins with a blue and white blur, almost like eyelashes blinking double-time. Hazy colors and facial features shift in and out of focus. As the camera zooms out, the object onscreen becomes apparent: a black, faintly-rattling fan. As the voiceover mentions, this is how those with autism view their surroundings: “For me, the details jump straight out first of all, and then gradually, detail by detail, the whole image floats up into focus.” Bright red honeycombs that transform into the fabric for a curtain. A flame that turns into a candle, sitting in a pool of water. As someone without personal experience with autism, this idea showed me that autistic people have a different—but no less valuable—way of seeing the world.

However, Aarti initially tried to make Amrit follow social norms. “I tried to stop her from being herself,” her mother said, holding her face in her hands. But when she read Naoki’s book and realized what life with autism is like, she began to think differently. “I am so estranged from my own child,” she admitted. “I do not know how I fit into a mother’s role.”

The camera did not look away from her pain; the moment felt like a violation of personal privacy. My tears, which had slowed to a trickle, came back in full force.

Contrary to stereotypes of those with autism—that they tend to pursue STEM and enjoy numbers—Amrit is an artist. She paints, sculpts, draws; her creations feature vivid colors, stylized faces. A smiling girl sitting in a rickshaw, hand up in a wave. Two women holding hands in front of a turquoise, apartment-building-filled background. My first thought when I saw her paintings was that they should be in an art gallery. And by the end of the movie, they were: Amrit held her first solo show. Film still from The Reason I Jump directed by Jerry Rothwell.

The relationship between Ben and Emma, two friends who are both nonverbal and autistic, is similarly heartwarming. However, instead of art, their method of communication is the letter board. Each board has the entire alphabet printed on it, and the two point to individual letters until they slowly spell out sentences. The process is time-consuming—both of them sometimes find themselves losing focus while speaking—yet exciting. Before they learned about letter boards, neither Ben nor Emma could participate in extensive coursework. “They wasted our time,” Emma said. Now, they can take charge of their learning.

Even without spoken communication, the two have been close since childhood, as evidenced by a series of pictures with the two of them together. “He was my first friend,” Emma says of Ben while they are on a walk together. Ben reciprocates: “Emma is my North Star.” As the voiceover mentions, Ben and Emma’s story exemplifies that people with autism also crave human connection and should not be pigeonholed as loners.

My one issue with the movie came at its end. Throughout the film, voiceovers from Naoki’s book had been paired with shots of a nonverbal autistic boy (Jim Fujiwara) exploring nature, climbing over bridges, holding tight to chain-link fences. However, in the last five minutes of The Reason I Jump, the boy walks with purpose through a neighborhood, making his way to a house. Inside sat the English translator of Naoki’s book, David Mitchell, who had been interviewed several times during the movie. Now, he translates a page from Japanese to English. The boy presses his face against the window, then leaves. Mitchell looks up, and sees the ghost of the boy’s breath on the window. There seems to be some meaning to this sequence of events, some symbolic connection. But for a movie without overt symbolism, a movie about human beings and their unfettered, organic relationships to one another, it feels like an unwelcome intrusion.

That being said, all of The Reason I Jump’s subjects overcome many barriers—societal and cultural stigma, lack of resources—to communicate with others. And most importantly, the movie demonstrates that autistic people are whole humans, with emotions, dreams, and a desire for interaction.

The Reason I Jump screened at SIFF Virtual Cinema, January 8 - February 25, 2021. For more information see here.

Lead photo credit: Film still from The Reason I Jump directed by Jerry Rothwell

This review was written as part of mentorship program where members of the Teen Editorial Staff receive one-on-one mentorship by Press Corps Teaching Artists and professional critics. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who lead the TeenTix Newsroom and curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Virtual Teen Nights with TeenTix!

Announcing a series of Virtual Teen Nights featuring local performances and discussions led by teens!

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Join TeenTix for a series of Virtual Teen Nights this March and April! Each Virtual Teen Night includes a screening of a performance from a local arts organization and a facilitated conversation and reflection activity on what you just saw. The post-screening discussion will be led by teens from TeenTix programs. Each Virtual Teen Night will focus on a different genre of art including film, dance, and theater, and we have events for both high schoolers and middle schoolers! Did we mention the best part? They’re all FREE! Sign up below to experience amazing local performances and connect with other arts-loving teens!

Each event will be hosted by TeenTix teaching artist Alethea Alexander and two teen facilitators from TeenTix programs. These events are produced in partnership with the Creative Advantage and Seattle Parks Department. All events will be hosted on the Webex platform. A link to Webex for the class will be sent to your email, two days prior to class.

Teen Nights with NFFTY Films

Saturday, March 13, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, March 20, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) - SIGN UP HERE

The NFFTY films that will be screened are:

Joychild by Aurora Brachman - A young child tells their mother "I'm not a girl" for the first time.

Yellow Cards of Equal Pay by Maia Vota - Members of the Burlington, VT High School girls soccer team recount the launch of their viral #EqualPay movement, inspired by Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women's national soccer team, from its humble beginnings to national media coverage.

GHAZAAL by Ragini Bhasin - A 13-year-old feisty Afghan refugee hustles around in a refugee camp as she experiences her period without having access to any sanitary napkins.

Teen Nights with On the Boards Dance Performance

Saturday, March 27, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, April 3, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) -SIGN UP HERE

The dance performance screening will be of When the Wolves Came In by Kyle Abraham/Abraham In Motion at On the Boards. The performance, by award-winning choreographer and performer Kyle Abraham, presents a new work inspired by jazz great Max Roach’s "We Insist Freedom Now." Watch the trailer here.

Teen Nights with Macha Theatre Works Plays

Saturday, April 10, 7-8:30 PM - High School (ages 14-19) - SIGN UP HERE

Saturday, April 17, 7-8:30 PM - Middle School (ages 11-14) - SIGN UP HERE

We will screen two, 17 Minute Plays from Macha Theatre Works. The two plays are:

Ancestral Trauma and Healing for Dummies, Co-written by Maddy Nibble and Christine O'Connor performed by Maddy Nibble: A tragicomic trauma-romp through the ages exploring the consequences of White Supremacy and Internalized Capitalism on a perfectly well intentioned, deeply abusive Irish-Italian immigrant family. Co-writers Maddy and their actual real-life mom, Christine O'Connor, travel across time and space to delve deep into the origins of false ideologies, shame-based addictions, and other bewildering heirlooms — and all in just 17 minutes!

In the Crosshairs, Written and performed by Roz Cornejo. The story of a mixed chick untangling her relationships with her hair, her skin, and her identity.

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One Year Later

Teen Editorial Staff March 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Triona Suiter and Eleanor Cenname

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Congratulations, everyone! We have made it to March 367th, or maybe 370-something by the time you read this. In any case, March is the longest month of the year. Well, not literally, but it sure does feel like it sometimes. Perhaps it is because March is both too cold for shorts, yet also allergy-inducing, or maybe it is because the powers that be deprive us of an hour of sleep. In any case, the great news is that once we are done with March, we will have turned a corner. Down this new street, the signs in storefronts advertise longer days, a little more sunlight, and maybe a bit of optimism. But until we reach these brighter times, we at TeenTix have the art to get you through the one year anniversary of March.

If you’re craving some lighthearted fun, why not check out So Bad It’s Good at MoPOP for a collection of failed movies to watch and laugh at? Or if you’re wanting something a little more serious, SIFF Cinema’s Night of Kings is sure to be captivating (note that this movie is rated R, watch at your own discretion). For those of you looking to learn something this month, Seattle Art Museum is hosting a virtual presentation on March 6, to discuss how historical genocides in Java, Indonesia impact the dance scene there today. Or if you’re truly desiring the absurd, Dacha Theatre’s board-game-inspired, 90’s-themed, interactive zoom show, Secret Admirer, could be just the thing for you.

Keep your eyes out on the blog to catch teen coverage of these events, as well as a small anthology of Heathers reviews from some of our Newsroom writers. And don’t forget to check out the TeenTix Arts Podcast, with new episodes released every month!

However you decide to get through March, we hope you’re staying safe and healthy, and please, wear your mask.

Lead photo credit: Photo by Sid Sun for Unsplash.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Is Disney Ever Going to Stop Making Live-Action Remakes?

Editorial about Disney's live-action remakes

Written by Teen Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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In 2010, Walt Disney Studios remade their 1951 animated adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as a live-action film. The cult of Walt had dabbled in remakes before, with their first live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book coming out in 1994 and two live-action adaptations of One Hundred and One Dalmatians released in 1996 and 2000, but none of them had made anywhere close to the whopping $1.025 billion that Alice in Wonderland made.

Disney’s next live-action remake, Maleficent, riffed on their 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent made $700 million at the box office. After that, the live-action remakes of classic Disney-renaissance era animated films became more frequent, creeping into movie theatres like an infectious, CGI-heavy plague. Cinderella came next, then The Jungle Book. The most recent films (with the exception of Mulan) all made over $1 billion at the box office.

Despite doing well at the box office, Disney’s live-action remakes are all widely agreed, by both critics and audiences alike, to be pretty mediocre. They receive lukewarm reviews and are torn apart online, especially on Twitter, with tweets like “I think I’ve finally come to the realization that I can’t wait to die so I won’t have to be around for the animated remakes of the live-action remakes of Disney Animated Films” (Hernandez 2021), and “The amount of people willing to die on this hill of defending the live-action remakes makes me wish the world ended in 2012” (Gladiator 2020). Twitter user @danny8bit says, accompanied by images from four Disney remakes, that they are “forever grateful to these movies for proving, once and for all, that animation is superior to live-action” (Barnes 2020). Mairi Ella Challen and Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland (2010) © Walt Disney Studios 2010

The downgrade from animation to live-action is what puts many people off. Disney’s excessive use of autotune and CGI in their remakes creates a soulless carbon copy of the original, with an uncanny valley spin. Alice in Wonderland is the only film that attempted originality in its design, with its relentlessly bleak post-apocalyptic Wonderland. It’s visually interesting, but substanceless. In my opinion, the original charm of 2D animation simply doesn’t translate well to live-action.

But my opinion means nothing, nor does anyone else’s. Critic and audience reception is meaningless to Disney, and it’s clear they’re going to continue churning out remakes so long as they’re making a profit, because to them, the number on Rotten Tomatoes means nothing compared to the number next to the dollar sign.

There’s a reason people keep coming back. Clearly, from the reviews, it’s not because of the quality of the films. It’s the nostalgia. The adults who grew up on their animated films and now have children of their own watch them with their kids to relive the memories and then complain to said kids about how much better the original was. The adults without kids also watch the remakes to relive the memories and then complain on the internet about how much better the original was. Either way, there’s a lot of complaining happening. Mena Massoud and Will Smith in Aladdin (2019) © Walt Disney Studios 2019

It’s clear from the criticisms of these remakes alone that the sole motivation behind people watching them is nostalgia. No one goes to watch a Disney remake expecting fine art. You watch a Disney remake expecting to see the exact same scenes from your childhood redone with three-dimensional people instead of two-dimensional people. This lust for the familiar comfort of the original films stifles any room for genuinely reimagining them. Audiences complain that the movies are exactly the same as the originals, and then complain when they’re not exactly the same as the originals.

The constant buzz around every new live-action remake, whether negative or positive, just means more money for Disney. In fact, they’re already planning on remaking Snow White, The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules, to name a few.

Maybe you love Disney’s remakes, maybe you hate them. Maybe you agree that they’re outstandingly mediocre. So is Disney ever going to stop making live-action remakes? The record-breaking box office numbers speak for themselves: nope.

Lead photo credit: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in Beauty and the Beast (2017) © Walt Disney Studios 2017

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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