China | New York Premiere Animation, Haipeng Sun; 2021, 104 min Recommended Ages: 9+ In Chinese, with English subtitles
Prepare yourself for the hallmarks of all the classic genres: I Am What I Am is a buddy film, a road movie, an underdog heartstring-puller, and even a little bit of a romcom. Our hero Gyun is a hard working kid with even harder working parents. While his parents toil away in the big city of Guangzhou, Gyun is left to his own devices in his small village, where he stumbles upon the transfixing Lion Dance Competition. Beneath the extraordinary costume is a powerful girl who gifts him with her stunning headdress and encourages him to pursue his newfound aspirations. Soon, Gyun and his buddies are traversing the enormity of the vast Chinese countryside as their own ragtag troupe. With hard work, athleticism, and a reluctant dance-champ-turned-fishmonger Sifu to coach them, they begin to outwit their competitors by harnessing their perceived weaknesses. The eye-poppingly bold and realistic CG animation that breathes fierce light into this rags to riches story will have you bouncing to the beat of the Lion’s drum.