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Film faces off against phys ed 'prejudice'

By Xu Fan | | Updated: 2021-10-22 15:25
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A still image features some high school seniors. [Photo provided to China Daily]

My P.E Teacher, a Chinese film which has earned nominations at several international film festivals, held a symposium in Beijing on Wednesday.

An "unwritten" rule kept for many years in the past, physical education classes have been quickly canceled and replaced by major academic subjects such as Chinese and math, as many people consider PE class "useless" for college entrance exams.

Amid China's latest efforts to change this perception and raise public awareness of the significance of sports, the film will strike a chord with many parents and teachers, according to most critics and experts at the symposium.

Set in a high school where such a prejudice is still prevalent, the movie begins with the arrival of Liu Haochen, a brand new PE teacher. Resisting pressures from school veterans and anxious parents who only care about test scores, Liu strives hard to bring a change, helping a class of 12th-grade students get exercise and encouraging teenagers to pursue their love of sports.

Students at the final year of their high school are yelling to support their favorite P.E teacher, in a scene of the film My P. E Teacher. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Apart from the teachers, played by professional actors, more than 40 seniors at Liu's class were shortlisted from over 2,000 candidates in two rounds of auditions conducted in Beijing and Guangzhou. Most of these teenagers had never acted before being cast.

Last summer, with temperatures at around 40 C, the teenagers partook a 15-day intensive training to learn athletic performance before the one-month shoot started.

The film has held roadshow screenings more than 30 times in dozens of cities, including Guangzhou, Nanchang and Wuhan.

Earlier this year, the film was nominated in five entries including best foreign language film and best feature during the the ninth Nice International Film Festival in France. In August, it also received nods at the sixth Canada Golden Maple Film Festival and was shortlisted for the feature films' competition sector at the San Diego International Kids' Film Festival in the United States.

The film is directed by Zhou Yong, a locally renowned Guangdong director who has produced or directed more than 20 films, mostly centering on children or teenagers.

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