Fim Society to air ‘Eight Grade’

NEW ULM–It’s tough growing up in any age, ask any middle-schooler. If you don’t know any middle school kids, consider watching the new film “Eighth Grade.”

The New Ulm Film Society is screening the 2018 comedy-drama “Eighth Grade” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at the New Ulm Public Library.

The film was written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham.

The movie is about an eighth-grader, Kayla Day, played by Elsie Fischer, during her last week of classes.

Kayla is a modern middle-school student. In her free time she posts motivational videos on the internet. Even though her videos are about confidence and self-image she personally struggles with this issues in her real life. It is this contradiction that creates the comedy and drama in the film.

Kayla, as well as many of her classmates, use phones and internet applications to communicate, but struggle to communicate in real-life.

The film is a coming-of-age drama that includes themes of depression and anxiety in teenagers, but also explores the impact social media has on the latest generation.

Burnham said in interviews he wanted to make the film as a way of talking about anxiety in modern day youth and to talk about anxiety and what it feels like to be alive right now. It is a feeling that he feels is reflected across American culture.

The film also reflects Burnham’s life. Although, not an autobiography, the film does mirror his life. Burnham began his career by posting videos online while still in high school. He also admitted to struggling with anxiety.

Since it’s release last summer, the film has received rave reviews and is a potential Oscar contender. It’s also one of the most successful independent films released in 2018. The film has has especially received praised for its accurate depiction of middle school life among Generation Z.

Fischer’s performance as Kayla is what sells the film as authentic. She was picked for the part from a field of 50 young actresses. Burnham said he selected her for the part because she played the character as shy pretending to be confident, while others were confident pretending to be shy.

Fischer’s casting was unique for the role in that she was actually 13-years- old. Hollywood films about high school students often cast older actors to play younger kids.

Fischer admitted in interviews that before getting that part she had stopped acting because even though she was a teenager, film productions rarely hire actors with the skin of a teenager.

Like many teenagers, Fischer has acne, but most Hollywood films depict teenagers with perfectly clear skin. “Eighth Grade” took the opposite route and made her acne part of the story. Part of Kayla’s routine is to watch makeup tutorials online before school.

In writing the script, Burnham wanted to create accurate speech patterns for the young cast. He researched Generation Z speech by reviewing Youtube videos made by high schoolers.

“Eighth Grade” is likely the most authentic coming-of-age drama of this era, but it also compared favorable to youth dramas from the past years.

Actress Molly Ringwald, star of the “Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” praised the film as one the best adolescent films she has ever seen, which is high praise.

The screening of “Eighth Grade” begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The New Ulm Film Society will facilitate discussion before and after the film.


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