On paper, Pixar’s Turning Red, a film about a thirteen-year-old Chinese Canadian girl whose entry into puberty causes her to transform into a large red panda every time she feels a strong emotion, is not for (or about) me. I am not of Chinese descent. I did not grow up in Toronto (or in North America, for that matter). My parents are not immigrants (I am). I have yet to transform into a large beast, unless we count persistent pandemic weight gain. More importantly, I am not one of Oscar-winning director Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members.
It’s true – in 2016, I went to vote at the same polling place where I’d voted for a decade and had received a postcard in the mail confirming I was registered. This time when I went to vote, I was told my name wasn’t on the voter rolls and was asked if I wanted a provisional ballot. Reluctantly, I voted with a provisional ballot because I knew a dirty little secret about us voting: provisional ballots do not have to be counted. Whether a provisional ballot is counted varies according to county practices, and some practices can be biased.
In popular culture, the phrase “cursed content” refers to something undesirable or repulsive. For fans of the popular shōnen anime series Jujutsu Kaisen, however, it is precisely what they came – and stayed – for. Fortunately for them, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a feature-length prequel based on the supernatural manga by Gege Akutami, has arrived to fill the monsterless void left behind by season one’s conclusion in 2021.
For those whose memories of high school days are a bit clouded and sentimental, TRY HARDER!, Debbie Lum and Nico Opper’s documentary about students at San Francisco’s academic powerhouse, Lowell High, will be an eye-opener. Parents of toddlers who are already buying Ivy League sweatshirts in size 3T might do well to observe what happens when kids who try hard sometimes learn that they need to re-define what success means in the college admission process.
While this film is about the students, it is also about the way support from caring teachers, parents, counselors, and peers has an enormous impact on the levels of stress these kids experience while trying to do all the things necessary to be competitive in a process with nearly impossible odds. As an example, the kids hear that Stanford’s acceptance rate is around 4%. They already know how hard it is, but some will try and beat the odds anyway.
This year the 44th Mill Valley Film Festival has created a true hybrid with a full schedule of movies showing at the Rafael in San Rafael, Sequoia in Mill Valley and BAMPFA in Berkeley through Sunday, October 17.
40 of the programs will be streaming in your home via several platforms.