Watch Kids' Reviews of
YANGYANG

What to know:
YANGYANG is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 12-18
6 minutes
VIDEO
OMER MALADY
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YANGYANG cover image
I really enjoyed Yang Yang. It is a very touching short film that engages us in the world of Yang Yang, a young boy, and the impending drama of a child forced to move away from a place where he feels he belongs.

Yang Yang follows a young boy who must leave the place where he grew up, his friend, Anya and his school and join his mother to live with her new husband. Although he tries to be brave and respectful, the trauma and the injustice is more than he can bear.

This is a simple story and well-told story about a childhood trauma to which we all can relate. The narrative is sympathetic to the protagonist, but it deals with the other characters' issues evenly. The script is remarkable in that it successfully carries several storylines - the story of Yang Yang, a confident young boy - happy in his neighborhood; the story of a possibly well-meaning but self-centered mother; the friendship and childhood love story between Yang Yang and Anya and the inner conflict of Yang Yang as he is forced to defy his mother. These are each perfectly developed and perfectly clear. The film is engaging and we immediately are concerned for the protagonist; so much so that, at the end we are worried about what will happen to him. Will someone come find him? Will he be alone on the street with nowhere to go? It says a great deal about the skill of the story development when the audience leaves with concerns about the wellbeing of the protagonist.

The opening with Yang Yang sitting on the wall between the old town and the new town watching a jet go by, wearing a Spider-man t-shirt is a great first shot. It tells us all we need to know about how comfortable Yang Yang is with his world. The camera work throughout is generally good. It seems well-planned and well-executed and the artistry of the street scenes make the piece more professional. The unevenness of the follow-cam sequence add to the tension of the moment. The only shortcoming is the audio as the kids enter the store. The volume seems a little too weak. I enjoyed the location of this film. The winding streets in Yang Yang's neighborhood seem comfortable and safe - as opposed to the open, feature-less sidewalk where Yang Yang and his mother have their confrontation. It seems it is a no-man's-land or at least a place that is harsh and unfeeling.

The background piano music at the opening is very appropriate and fits well with setting us up for a story about a boy. It drops out when Yang Yang sees a mover with a box coming out of his apartment and lets us know that the mood is going to change. I like that the story is told without the background music and that the action and the acting holds our attention. The timing of the music bed's re-entry during Yang Yang's confrontation with his mother adds to the emotion of the moment and in a way makes us feel like what he's doing is okay - at least for him.

Yang Yang carries the story well. He shows us many sides - his contentment, his fear of upsetting his mother, his ability to be deceptive by stealing money from her purse, his happiness with Anya, his determination and his anger in the face of what he perceives as disempowering injustice.

His mother is a rather self-absorbed young woman who gives us a lot of the back story. We understand from her first appearance that she has married a man who hasn't even met her son. This fact leads us to wonder just how substantial the world that Yang Yang is entering actually is. The actress excels at showing us this woman and I like the fact that, while we don't really like the woman she plays, we don't hate her and, at times, even understand why she is doing what she is doing.

Anya is so sweet - no wonder Yang Yang likes her. And - the depth of her character is also well-portrayed. The little actress who plays Anya is terrific. The store scene is a good example of this.

For most films, any part that outshines the others indicates problems with the balance of the film. That is not the case here. The sets and locations, the characters, the camera work, the background music-, all feel very cohesive and natural. Nothing pulls your attention away from the story.

I like the store scene because it carries the emotions of the film. Yang Yang's words seem very brave and very sad. By not speaking directly to the fact that he is leaving, he shows the maturity of a hero and it breaks our hearts. And I like Anya's reaction to her understanding of what is happening. It isn't clear if she understands he is leaving, or if he is issuing an ultimatum on money or if she feels like she doesn't want to accept the gift because she has already fixed her old squirt gun - but it doesn't matter. It could have been all of those things but it is the honesty of that moment where they both show themselves to be more than just children.

The message of the film is that kids' 'emotional lives matter. And that, although in life adults learn to cope and go on, perhaps we should give more thought to and validity of our children's perspectives. The assumption that kids give little or no thought to their lives is not only debilitating, but also foundational to how they feel about themselves as they grow and how they assemble their lives as they age. Raising children without respect for their humanity, without respect for their feelings causes them to feel unworthy and they do the same with their children and so, such disrespect becomes a generational neurosis that gets passed on. Unfortunately, it appears that this is the case rather than the exception. Raising a child to be a well balanced, thoughtful adult is an art form.

I give YangYang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Chris T., KIDS FIRST!

I really enjoyed Yang Yang. It is a very touching short film that engages us in the world of Yang Yang, a young boy, and the impending drama of a child forced to move away from a place where he feels he belongs.

Yang Yang follows a young boy who must leave the place where he grew up, his friend, Anya and his school and join his mother to live with her new husband. Although he tries to be brave and respectful, the trauma and the injustice is more than he can bear.

This is a simple story and well-told story about a childhood trauma to which we all can relate. The narrative is sympathetic to the protagonist, but it deals with the other characters' issues evenly. The script is remarkable in that it successfully carries several storylines - the story of Yang Yang, a confident young boy - happy in his neighborhood; the story of a possibly well-meaning but self-centered mother; the friendship and childhood love story between Yang Yang and Anya and the inner conflict of Yang Yang as he is forced to defy his mother. These are each perfectly developed and perfectly clear. The film is engaging and we immediately are concerned for the protagonist; so much so that, at the end we are worried about what will happen to him. Will someone come find him? Will he be alone on the street with nowhere to go? It says a great deal about the skill of the story development when the audience leaves with concerns about the wellbeing of the protagonist.

The opening with Yang Yang sitting on the wall between the old town and the new town watching a jet go by, wearing a Spider-man t-shirt is a great first shot. It tells us all we need to know about how comfortable Yang Yang is with his world. The camera work throughout is generally good. It seems well-planned and well-executed and the artistry of the street scenes make the piece more professional. The unevenness of the follow-cam sequence add to the tension of the moment. The only shortcoming is the audio as the kids enter the store. The volume seems a little too weak. I enjoyed the location of this film. The winding streets in Yang Yang's neighborhood seem comfortable and safe - as opposed to the open, feature-less sidewalk where Yang Yang and his mother have their confrontation. It seems it is a no-man's-land or at least a place that is harsh and unfeeling.

The background piano music at the opening is very appropriate and fits well with setting us up for a story about a boy. It drops out when Yang Yang sees a mover with a box coming out of his apartment and lets us know that the mood is going to change. I like that the story is told without the background music and that the action and the acting holds our attention. The timing of the music bed's re-entry during Yang Yang's confrontation with his mother adds to the emotion of the moment and in a way makes us feel like what he's doing is okay - at least for him.

Yang Yang carries the story well. He shows us many sides - his contentment, his fear of upsetting his mother, his ability to be deceptive by stealing money from her purse, his happiness with Anya, his determination and his anger in the face of what he perceives as disempowering injustice.

His mother is a rather self-absorbed young woman who gives us a lot of the back story. We understand from her first appearance that she has married a man who hasn't even met her son. This fact leads us to wonder just how substantial the world that Yang Yang is entering actually is. The actress excels at showing us this woman and I like the fact that, while we don't really like the woman she plays, we don't hate her and, at times, even understand why she is doing what she is doing.

Anya is so sweet - no wonder Yang Yang likes her. And - the depth of her character is also well-portrayed. The little actress who plays Anya is terrific. The store scene is a good example of this.

For most films, any part that outshines the others indicates problems with the balance of the film. That is not the case here. The sets and locations, the characters, the camera work, the background music-, all feel very cohesive and natural. Nothing pulls your attention away from the story.

I like the store scene because it carries the emotions of the film. Yang Yang's words seem very brave and very sad. By not speaking directly to the fact that he is leaving, he shows the maturity of a hero and it breaks our hearts. And I like Anya's reaction to her understanding of what is happening. It isn't clear if she understands he is leaving, or if he is issuing an ultimatum on money or if she feels like she doesn't want to accept the gift because she has already fixed her old squirt gun - but it doesn't matter. It could have been all of those things but it is the honesty of that moment where they both show themselves to be more than just children.

The message of the film is that kids' 'emotional lives matter. And that, although in life adults learn to cope and go on, perhaps we should give more thought to and validity of our children's perspectives. The assumption that kids give little or no thought to their lives is not only debilitating, but also foundational to how they feel about themselves as they grow and how they assemble their lives as they age. Raising children without respect for their humanity, without respect for their feelings causes them to feel unworthy and they do the same with their children and so, such disrespect becomes a generational neurosis that gets passed on. Unfortunately, it appears that this is the case rather than the exception. Raising a child to be a well balanced, thoughtful adult is an art form.

I give YangYang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Chris T., KIDS FIRST!

Yangyang and Anya are good friends growing up in LongyuanXi, but one day, Yangyang's mother want to move to his new husband's house with Yangyang. Yangyang decide to do something before leaving.
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