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A Jewish Girl In Shanghai

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Megan Hsiao
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A Jewish Girl In Shanghai

A Jewish Girl in Shanghai ( 犹太女孩在上海) is a 2010 Chinese animated family film written by Wu Lin and based on his graphic novel of the same name. The story is about two young Jewish refugees--Rina and her younger brother Mishalli, who escaped Europe and lived in Shanghai, waiting to reunite with their parents. A Chinese orphan named A-Gen later formed strong friendships with them while they adventured together and tried to fend off the Japanese army occupying the city, and their allies, the Nazis. This film tells a Second World War story and it is based on Wu Lin’s groundbreaking Chinese-language graphic novel about the Holocaust. This traditional animation was created by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. An interesting fun fact that I found from the website of UK Jewish Film stated that this film actually portrayed the little known tale of Shanghai’s “Little Vienna”, where some 30,000 Jewish refugees sought shelter during the war years( 


I personally think the animation itself is not as attractive compared with the other Japanese or American animated films. However, the story in the film is in fact meaningful and friendly enough even if used in the middle school or elementary levels at school. From the perspective of World History or world language classes (especially Mandarin Chinese class), this film could offer many topics for students to discuss. 


Historically speaking, this film set its background in WWII and the second Sino-Japanese War, in which we could have a history lesson to discuss the Japanese occupation and its impact in China during that period of time. Giving students an overview about this historical background will help the students better appreciate the film during viewing the film. I would recommend teachers to only show the clips of the film which described the Chinese society under the influence of Japanese occupation and pauses there for a discussion. 


In terms of culture, this film also addressed several different cultural aspects between Chinese and western society. For example, holiday celebrations (this film described how people celebrate Dragon Boat Festival), Chinese clothing, Chinese music vs western classical music (Rina plays violin), etc are all very engaging discussion topics to use in class. In particular, letting students further investigate the special background of Jewish refugees in China or the little Vienna in Shanghai could be very fascinating as well. One fun observation that I noticed in the film is that these Jewish characters in the film all spoke fluent Mandarin, which actually seems to be a little odd to me, but it could be interesting to see what students think. This film is certainly a very appropriate supplementary resource for cultural discussions in the language and history classrooms.