Charles Xiuzhi Dong’s AFTER CLASS is a symphonic masterpiece of film

After Class by Charles Xiuzhi Dong

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings”

-Hodding Carter

Charles Xiuzhi Dong’s short film After Class is a symphonic masterpiece of film.  A virtuoso of film, he takes on an orchestral journey that hums with suspense and is underscored with a heart-breaking reality that many mothers face as they fight to give their children their hearts desires.  

Charles Xiuzhi Dong takes on an orchestral journey that hums with suspense

The film opens with an unassuming scene that paints a desolate clarity into the lives of the mother and daughter duo in which this story revolves. A mother who works hard to keep her daughter fed and safe, and a little girl whose life inside a slum is monotone in its struggle as she fills her days gathering all the rubbish, she can sell to help out her weary mother. Su Min, like all children who are still filled with wonder of the world, yearns to go to school, to run freely alongside her peers and live the simple life of her privileged playmates. 

In her innocent curiosity she sneaks into the school in which her mother works as a cleaner, and peers into the classroom to catch a glimpse of what life as a student is like. Throughout these scenes, the films score builds and tension rises, and sure enough little Su Min finds herself caught by teacher and running away. The culmination of this scene ends with broken bones and a hospital visit as she runs blinded by fear into a busy street. 

Through all this, Su Min’s mother finally sees her daughter’s desperation for learning, but the system is against her. The school registration system proves a difficult obstacle and she falls into dark path to get the money she needs to give her child her dream. They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and as this story reaches it tragic ending and builds into its final heart-breaking crescendo, Su Min’s mother experiences the hellish nightmare all mother’s fear.

The school registration system proves a difficult obstacle and she falls into dark path to get the money she needs to give her child her dream.

After Class has been selected to screen at the upcoming Tehran International Short Film Festival in October. The film is honoured to be the Winner of the Best Short Award (Asia International Competition) at Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia. After qualifying to be considered for a 2021 Academy Award, this film could receive a well deserved nomination and gong!

After qualifying to be considered for a 2021 Academy Award, this film could receive a well deserved nomination and gong!

The film’s award-winning Chinese director Charles Xiuzhi Dong is based in Los Angeles. He received a BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and was recently accepted to the American Film Institute’s directing fellowship. His short films AFTER CLASS and COOKIE HEART screened at numerous high-profile international film festivals. His feature documentary debut, AN ANSHAN STORY, follows the investigation of his family saga, post-Chinese cultural revolution history.

Producer Branton Choi is an independent producer based in Los Angeles. He founded Chalice Films and has produced award-winning short films including AFTER CLASS which was officially selected for Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Tehran International Short Film Festival. His previous short RED BEAN SOUP garnered first place at the Wasserman and King Awards. Branton’s production company also has a long-term commercial production deal with TikTok. He currently works at the physical production department at the Russo Brother’s AGBO Films.

Executive Producer Brenden Hubbard is an award-winning filmmaker, director, and producer. He has managed productions and festival runs for various films since 2012, including the 2013 Academy Award-winning film CURFEWas well as the subsequent feature, BEFORE I DISAPPEAR (IFC Films). He has since been involved with over 60 productions including the winner of the 2015 Sundance Jury Award, OH LUCY!, CUL-DE-SAC (2016 Toronto International Film Festival), THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL (A24, 2017 Sundance Film Festival) and his directing debut  THE HELPING HAND which screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and is distributed through Dust. 

Stefan Nachmann is a German-born Director of Photography, he most recently won the Grand Jury Prize for “Best Cinematography” at IFFNY for his work on ‘COOKIE HEART’, a 16-Minute One Take Film. Another short film he shot, AZIZ, based on a true story, was a semifinalist for the Student Academy Awards of 2019.

W.E. Elfaki, Just Celebrity Magazine

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