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Maineland

2017
Distributed by Three Waters Productions, 59 Newell St., #3R, Brooklyn, NY 11222; 917-450-4124

Directed by Miao Wang
DVD , color, 90 min., Chinese and English
General Adult
Adolescents, Education, Globalization, Interpersonal Communication, Teen Culture


Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 1/4/2018

International education in the United States is a lucrative business for both public and private institutions. According to ICEF Monitor, a market intelligence firm, there are currently more than one million foreign students in the US, with a large number (nearly 33%) coming from mainland China. At a time when federal and state support is decreasing, the nearly $36 billion these students contribute annually to the education sector is significant.

In this snapshot of the international education market, filmmaker Wang (Beijing Taxi, 2010) follows two wealthy, urban teenagers as they navigate a school year at a small and expensive private secondary school in rural Maine. The film opens with admissions officers from Fryeburg Academy meeting with students and parents in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China. It is clear from the outset that each group has separate but intersecting interests in this study abroad program. For outgoing Stella (Xinyi Zhu), it is a chance to participate in an image of a Hollywood version of an American lifestyle. For introspective Harry (Junru He) and his father it is an opportunity to improve English language skills and better compete in a global economy. By year’s end, each achieves at least some of these goals.

According to the director’s statement, this is the second part of a trilogy of films beginning with Beijing Taxi that focus on the changing sociocultural environment of contemporary China.