Post-00s is a documentary about growing up.
It covers almost every aspect of millennials’experiences on their path toward adolescence – their struggles with school work, their relationship with peers, their confusion if a younger sibling is born into the family, and their growing desire to keep a distance from their parents.
But this five-episode series, which aired on CCTV 9 from Aug 20, was different from any other TV program with a similar theme.
To start with, Post-00s was filmed over a period of 10 years, during which the show’s makers followed a group of kids in Beijing from when they were toddlers through to when they became teenagers. In other words, the show’s “characters” grow older for real, and their stories are all real.
“Coming-of-age” stories, as they’re known, have a special appeal. They satisfy our curiosity of peeking at someone else’s life, and we become more and more attached to the characters as if we truly know them. And while we enjoy the authenticity of the stories because nothing is set in advance, we also can’t help but feel the cruelty of reality. After all, there’s no re-writing of the script and there’s no turning back – this is real life.
“No dramatic scenes were needed for this documentary,” Zhang Tongdao, the show’s director, told China Daily. “Every detail or line comes from their lives. What I did was capture them.”
This realness can also be seen in Boyhood (《少年时代》), a 2014 film that won the Silver Bear award for best director at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. During a span of 12 years, the film follows the life of Mason Jr– played by US actor Ellar Coltrane – from when he was 6 to when he finished high school.
One of Boyhood’s appeals comes from its “ordinariness”, according to Independent editor Geoffrey Macnab. “Mason Jr isn’t some child prodigy… He is a quietly spoken, fairly typical American boy, growing up in the Texas suburbs. He likes riding his bike and playing video games,” he wrote.
While coming-of-age stories may look ordinary on the outside, they often allow us to look underneath the surface and see something extraordinary – the power of life itself.
As US writer Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel.” And in the case of Post-00s, it’s also a really good documentary.
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