No matter what time in history, what part of the planet and what socio-economic class – the love of a mother is a universal theme. Director Charles Xiuzhi Dong brings us a short film all of 15 minutes long which clearly illustrates this.
Mothers will do anything for their kids. The mother-child relationship is a sacred one. As such plenty of films lean on it. After Class is the story of a hard working single mom who will do just about anything to give her daughter what she wants in life.
Single mom and 8-year-old Su Min live in the slums of a major city in China. The mom works continuously as a cleaner in a primary school and the rest of the time she and her daughter pick through garbage, collecting it to earn money. Obviously money is tight, so Min has not been able to attend school.
Unlike many young kids, Min really wants to go to school. She hangs around the schoolyard watching the other kids and often asks her mother to let her go to school. The mom does not have the money to send her daughter to school.
After finding out from the school principal that it would cost 30,000 yuan per year for Min to attend the school as they aren’t registered in that area. Desperate to make that happen, the mom begins to do something she never would have thought herself capable of. She also lies to her daughter about how she gets the money and that lie results in something no one could have predicted.
This short has begun a tour of film festivals including winning top prize at the Oscar qualifying festival, Short Shorts Japan. It is a little gem with a story which is not too complex, but features a surprise or two. The two actresses do great jobs bringing realism and humanity to their characters.
A bittersweet drama, your emotions will be all over the place during the short run time of the film. You will understand the mother’s decision to do what she needs to in order for her daughter to get the education needed to give her a chance to get out of the cycle of poverty they are now in. Most parents want better for their children than they themselves had. Makes you really appreciate the universal free public education we have here in this country right up until the post secondary level. People in many countries are not so lucky.