Puberty blues for young Einsteins

By Xu Fan(chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2015-03-29 09:13:55

Poster of upcoming film The Ark of Mr. Chow. Photo provided to China Daily

In 1985, Xi'an Jiaotong University launched a program to recruit gifted teenagers to study in the university before they had even finished high school.

These youngsters were all extremely academically talented, but they found the social side of university difficult. They were dealing with the stress of puberty and their schoolmates were much older than them.

Three decades later, one of the graduates of that program draws on his experiences as a teenage university student for his upcoming film, The Ark of Mr. Chow.

Xiao Yang, a famous film editor who has worked on many blockbusters, including You are the One and Detective D, was selected for the special class for gifted youth at Xi'an Jiaotong University at age 15 and became a student in the architecture department at 16.

"My film wants to tell a special tale of growing pains. All the characters (five gifted teenagers who have been selected for early university entry who are training for a world mathematics competition) are geniuses, but facing embarrassing moments in daily life," said the newbie director and veteran film editor, at a media event to promote the movie on March 20. 

Poster of upcoming filmThe Ark of Mr. Chow. Photo provided to China Daily

The special class for gifted youth usually recruits teenagers who are focused on scientific fields and tends to select far more boys than girls.

"I was very impressed that every girl in my class had a good-looking and smart boyfriend," Xiao recalled.

"For us, university is a heaven for girls, but a battlefield for boys.

"It will be an unlikely puberty-themed movie, but it records the memories of a special group of talents," he said.

The feature-length movie, produced by Taiwan veteran filmmaker Chen Kuo-fu, gets a thumb-up from insiders.

Feng Xiaogang, one of the most successfully commercial directors in China, likens the production to Jiang Wen's film debut In the Heart of the Sun.

"The Ark of Mr. Chow, based on a real life story, will impress moviegoers with its in-depth reflection of the Chinese college education system," Feng said. "Sometimes I do envy these young directors. They are still sharp. They want to say something in their productions, but not just become a money-making machine."

Starring veteran actor Sun Honglei and emerging actress Zhou Dongyu, the movie will be released on June 19.

Poster of upcoming film The Ark of Mr. Chow. Photo provided to China Daily

Poster of upcoming film The Ark of Mr. Chow. Photo provided to China Daily

Poster of upcoming film The Ark of Mr. Chow. Photo provided to China Daily

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