Directed by Miao Wang
Special Jury Recognition, Documentary Feature, 2017 SXSW Film Festival
Special Jury Prize, Documentary Feature, 2017 Independent Film Festival Boston
Among the tall emerald forests and pleated mountain ranges of central New England, there’s a cozy little backwater town by the name of Fryeburg, Maine. Home to a slaphappy array of low-key eateries, a yodeling U.S. highway, and the changing of the seasons, Fryeburg is populated almost entirely by three, four thousand white people still living in the outmoded houses of the early 1800s, complete with weatherboard siding, functional chimneys, and all other things colonial. So why then, as happens every year in the fall, does an eclectic group of fresh-faced teenagers from mainland China designate sleepy old here as the place to live it up for the next few foreseeable chapters of their dissipating formative years?
MAINELAND follows rich girl Stella Zhu and mostly plain Harry He as the two tread wobbly foreign soil in search of their footing as visiting students, as temporary patriots, and as firstly-and-foremost Chinese citizens urgently latching onto their heritage and their wavering self-assurance in the identities they’ve taken for granted up until this watershed moment in their lives. Culture shock, interracial flirting, and subverted expectations of what it means and doesn’t mean to live in America punctuate their three-year long road terminating, inevitably, in college admissions, senior prom, and farewells. All of which loom in the background, so far away, and yet, it seems, far too close to ignore. –Thomas Jin
Co-Presented by: San Diego Chinese Women’s Association