Judgment Day — Saturday, June 7, 2008
After three years of researching, writing, fundraising and filming, finally the two-day exam that will complete our film begins. Car owners of Chongqing are asked not to get on the road before 9 a.m., so as not to hinder the students, and construction work has come to a standstill in a city that seems like one big construction site.
We position ourselves at the main entrance of the school. Then a complete downpour starts. Within 10 minutes we are wet to the bone, and within 45 minutes our sound recording equipment comes to a complete standstill. We hurry to our hotel room and start blow-drying our equipment and clothes, hoping to make it till the lunch break and get some first reactions. New sound recording equipment has to be flown in from Beijing. We improvise until then.
The kids seem to be holding themselves together. Some are trembling, most seem happy that an end is in sight. Although it is impossible for them to even start thinking about what to do after all this is over. They are not able to imagine not getting up every morning at 6:30, sitting in their classroom from 7:10 a.m. till 10:30 p.m. Six days a week. With no computer access, no parties, no extra curricular activities, hardly any sports.
Most parents rented hotel rooms close to the school buildings and are waiting in the hotel lobby during examination hours for the moment that they can pick up their offspring to pamper it as much as possible until accompanying them to the next test.
Marije Meerman is the director of China Prep. The film premieres on WIDE ANGLE on August 12th. Check your local listings for air times, and check here for more of Marije’s story, and for updates about the film.