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What to know:
KAYLA is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 7-16
120 minutes
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This would be a lovely addition to any film festival. It is a heartwarming and sometimes sad film about parents trying to determine what's best for their child's future. Should parents encourage kids to do what they love or inspire them to learn more practical things, in order to succeed? I like how the little girl's father encourages her to follow her love of singing and music.This helps her throughout her life. This feature film focuses on a young girl trapped between Eastern and Western cultures. It explores the delicate balances that often confronts both children and adults. For example, how easy it is to misinterpret many foreign customs or alternative medicine traditions. There is also a conflict about prioritizing the importance of family life versus career or work life. The fragilities of life versus death, acceptance versus rejection, as well as health versus sickness are also touched upon. I enjoyed the protagonist, Kayla speaking and singing Chinese to her mom and her grandparents. This shows how the child actress put quite a bit of effort into learning a non-native language for her role. She demonstrates very convincing bursts of emotion, especially her crying outburst when she leaves her father behind at the airport. The cinematography offers wonderful views of pagodas and the intricate carvings inside the Chinese homes. The scenes of the baby panda playing and the aerial views of the Great Wall in China are also exciting to see. My favorite part is when Kayla and her mom run along the Great Wall, with her mom explaining the history and handmade construction of this Wonder of the World. The message of this film is about keeping love in your heart at all times. It keeps us strong, brave, kind and is the ultimate healer. Another message is about how kids are better off following their own dreams, rather than those of their parents. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 16, as well as adults. Reviewed by Jeff M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
"Kayla" tells the story of a seven year old girl who is forced to find balance between Chinese culture and Western culture, life and death, losing and gaining. Kayla has a happy family - her mother comes from China, her father from the United States. While she is visiting China with her mother, Kayla struggles with the Mandarin language, but always stands up for herself and others, which gives her unexpected trouble with other children in the country. Even worse, her father dies unexpectedly, which changes Kayla's life completely. Her dreams and hopes are mercilessly taken away. She now has to grow up quickly to take care of her sick mother, and Kayla learns how to deal with poor and grueling situations while missing her father deeply. Nevertheless, she still inspires the people around her with love and singing and always finds courage, even when she feels lost.
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