Confronting systemic racism, Li Dong debuts ‘Stealing School’ on June 23


Capturing the experience of systemic racism against Asian students against the backdrop of a prestigious institution, ‘Stealing School’ premieres on June 23.

The World Premiere of Asian-Canadian writer and director Li Dong’s latest film, Stealing School may seemingly occur in a world different from the one in which the film was made – but not for filmmaker Li Dong who harnessed his own experiences of racism to write, direct, and produce his debut film. From Game Theory Films, Stealing School captures the modern-day anxieties of a generation currently facing uncertain futures through a satirical courtroom drama, told through the story of April Chen (Celine Tsai), an Asian-Canadian tech prodigy accused of plagiarism by her teaching assistant (Jonny Keltz), and forced to stand trial a week before graduation. Complex and layered relationships unfold, and racial tensions and systemic biases are exposed as the trial unravels, forcing viewers to question their ideas of innocence. A special premiere screening takes place on Friday, June 19 on Vimeo On Demand, followed by a live Q & A with the lead cast members Celine Tsai and Jonathan Keltz, filmmaker Li Dong, and a special guest moderator. Stealing School will be available on Vimeo on Demand from June 19, with the film available on Apple TV and iTunes on June 23. 

“Making this movie has been as stressful as it’s been joyful,” says filmmaker Li Dong. “I set out to make a movie that was as illuminating as it was entertaining. My own experiences as a Chinese-Canadian immigrant, especially in recent months, have spurred me to continue in the pursuit of making art that feels true to me. It’s my hope that Stealing School is a small contribution to changing the world for the better.” 

Stealing School follows April Chen (portrayed by Celine Tsai), a brilliant programmer with a promising career ahead of her, who is accused of plagiarism by Keith (portrayed by Jonny Keltz), a teaching assistant who drags her in front of an academic hearing to prevent her from graduating. April and Keith must present their cases to an impartial panel, which consists of three tribunal judges that each also have their own illicit motivations and personal biases that will secretly steer the final decision. As April and Keith become increasingly acrimonious towards the tribunal and each other, the facade of civility and political correctness erodes, revealing sinister and unflattering sides of all parties concerned. Behind the closed doors of a prestigious institution of higher learning, what began as a seemingly honourable pursuit of academic justice slowly turns into a chaotic display of corruption, pettiness and naked self-interest.

Through the story of one trial, the film explores a myriad of controversial and pressing issues involving race, gender, uneasy power dynamics and the questionable value of a liberal arts education in a fastly-globalizing, tech-dominated workforce.

Stay up-to-date with Stealing School on instagram. 

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