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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Claudia Kishi Club is a 17-minute documentary about the lasting effects the sole Asian American character in the popular 1980s and 1990s book series The Baby-Sitters Club (also a TV show) has had on Asian American kids. Artists and writers interviewed credit the existence of Claudia, an iconic, stereotype-busting character, as key to embracing themselves. Subjects discuss feeling excluded and being made fun of for their "almond-shaped eyes" and "jet black hair." Language include "f--k," "s--t," "damn," and "badass."
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What's the story?
THE CLAUDIA KISHI CLUB is a celebration of the one Asian American character depicted in the popular The Baby-Sitter's Club series of children's books. The short film emphasizes how a seemingly small nod to the existence of Asian American girls who don't fit the usual stereotype could unleash the pride and creative energies of a generation of young Asian American boys and girls. Unlike pervasive images of quiet, scholastically high-performing, over-scheduled, genius kids, Claudia can't spell, gets bad grades (except for art), and loves to dress in attention-getting hipster fashions that express her "wild" nature. Interviewees, including Sarah Kuhn, Naia Cucukov, Gale Galligan, CB Lee, and Phil Yu, are all thankful for the depiction of an Asian American kid in whom they could recognize themselves. From Claudia they learned, "There is not just one way to be an Asian person."
Is it any good?
This short documentary is a charming, arts-and-crafty look at the way the title's Asian American character inspired and gave permission to young Asian American kids to be themselves. The painful alternative many say they faced was to always feel they were disappointments to parents who demanded straight As, virtuosity, and otherwise distinguished kids. Using a scrapbook-y, animated framing style between interviews, director Sue Ding mimics the creativity, energy, and vividness of Claudia, the inspiration for Asian American kids who read the books. The Claudia Kishi Club demonstrates that this is a rich subject that other filmmakers and writers can mine to create more documentaries and books.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way kids learn from images and stereotypes presented in the media. How were the interview subjects in The Claudia Kishi Club influenced by and strengthened by positive qualities that Claudia embodied?
Why do you think some Asian American kids are told by their parents to "fit in" and not "create waves"? How do you think hearing such advice could affect kids growing up?
How do you think stereotypes are created? Why is it unfair to prejudge people before you know them?
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