Life Is Hard, But NFFTY Guides the Way

​Review of "A Guide to Growing Up" at NFFTY by Tracy Montes

Friday marked the continuation of an exciting lineup of films at NFFTY. Among the sets shown on Friday was “A Guide to Growing Up” in which filmmakers from 3 different countries (Canada, Australia, and the United States) showed films addressing a plethora of issues regarding the difficulties (and joys) of what it means to grow up and maneuver your way through developing your identity, perspectives, and personality in today’s modern world.

The following films are some of the highlights of the evening and deal with a variety of themes that cover some aspect of what it means to grow up and to overcome the challenges encountered along the way.

It is likely that you have witnessed a certain form of oppression in your environment or within your community. It means one thing to be attacked, hurt, or oppressed and something completely different for others to watch the damage being done and do nothing about it. This is the theme that the powerful film The Champion by Ben Tan, Luka Joncich, and Jacob “Kuba” Bojsza explores.

Nina by Rheanna Toy addresses what it means to feel left out and how far we can go to be accepted and do things that, even at a young age, can put us at risk. Toy explores this theme with an interesting perspective of obsession with body image and fitness, ideas she consumes through her mother who is obsessed with fitness and body weight.

Director Dominic Chan introduces Mermaids, a music video for Jasmine Taviss, in a very distinctive way with shots of Taviss in her most intimate places. Shooting scenes in her bedroom, her city, and including the outdoors with scenes at a beach, Taviss blasts rhythmic tunes and hip-hop beats as she confronts society with a lyrical messages of acceptance, peer pressure, gender equality, and body positivity.

Bye Hyungjik is a touching film by Hyungjik Lee, narrating his own experience, as a Korean student living in the United States studying film. Lee’s film poses the question, “Was it worth it?” This question is part of a message that may resonate with some international students or individuals who have had to deal with being homesick and want to give everything up and return to their homeland. This particular film was simple in cinematography, yet it displayed a theme rich in meaning and honesty.

Better Days by Matt Hoff is a beautiful film about love lost and wanting to hold onto the remnants of feelings and hope. It is a real tear jerker, in which Hoff attempts to showcase the fact that life usually does not have neat endings such as those presented in movies. Hoff guides us through a couple’s conversation and audiences are able to grasp the pain, intense feelings, and hope fleeting away.

The Most Beautiful Thing by Cameron Covell tells a story of love found and of what it means to accept another person and embrace them for who they are despite their limitations. A young boy feels pressured because he has no idea who to invite to prom. He does not have many friends, a girlfriend, or someone special to turn to. When he finds Emily, he is touched by her beauty and is heartbroken by her lack of acknowledgement each time he says hello. It is as if Emily has not heard him. Later, he discovers the reason why she fails to respond, and a beautiful relationship starts to develop.

These are some of the films that were catalogued as examples of the different aspects of youth and of growing up. Following along musical beats while drying a few tears and to then crack up with funny scenes demonstrates the ability of these young directors to keep audiences engaged and motivated to rediscover aspects of their own lives.

April 24 - 27

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