Programmed by Jason Burnham
Five young students in a Shanghai school of arts audition for a part in a film. They talk about their inspirations, their personnal story and about what drives them to act. Being adolescents, their motivations are as ingenuous and unclear as the film they are auditioning for. Combining documentary and fiction, the script writes itself around one question: if they could act anything, what would it be? The clashing of their wide-eyed desires and the serious job of acting, the clashing of their rigourous school environment and their most frivolous acting fantasies, and the clashing of two cultures, a disoriented western director meeting China for the first time amidst a bubling crowd of young artists, gives births to fortuitous scenes with an unhinged quality that ultimately, are only for them to act out.
A word from Tënk
Through its elegant simplicity, Jean-Sébastien Beaudoin Gagnon’s work gives us fleeting access to the fantasies of a Chinese youth that is opening up and externalizing itself to gain a greater self-understanding. Filmed with a collaborative and playful spirit, the film takes form through the desires, dreams and cultural influences of these young actors, who take a visible pleasure in ditching real life for a few minutes to put themselves in danger. Whether it’s to empower themselves more, break away from the everyday, have fun with cinematographic codes, overcome the fear of ridicule, accomplish a childhood dream or take symbolic vengeance against past trauma, the exercises offer them a welcome outlet, an exhilarating break from the at-times overwhelming seriousness of life. Acting Out brilliantly succeeds in providing its viewers with a contagious good time.
Tënk’s programming assistant