Category Archives: Teens


  sonitahush                                                                                  Sonita

                                                                             90 Minutes


Sonita is an Afghan immigrant living in Tehran, Iran and just wants to be a rapper. She doesn’t want to have to work as a teenager, she doesn’t want to have to take care of her family and she definitely doesn’t want to have to get married. Her family has some very different opinions. They want to follow Afghan tradition and sell Sonita as a bride so they can get enough money to pay for Sonita’s brother’s bride. This documentary follows Sonita through her journey in becoming a rapper.

name_dateThe community sponsor for this film was the Femme Wave Festival. I think that is super awesome. The fact that an all women’s music festival sponsored a film about a seventeen-year-old girl trying to make music about meaningful subjects is great! The two couldn’t go better together. Be sure to see tonnes of local Calgary women and girls perform at this year’s Femme Wave, Nov. 17-20 (including me).

This film was never boring. Sometimes documentaries can get a little boring, but this one was very well paced and the audience was always captivated. Something was always happening and you could hear the laughter, gasps, or sniffles from the other people in the theater.

sonita-studioI thought it was really cool how much of Sonita’s life they shared. They talked about how her family wanted to use her for money and the fact her family doesn’t really care about what she wants to do. They also talked about the tradition in Afghanistan of selling daughters to be brides and about how you need permission from the government to record songs that talk about controversial subjects. It really brought awareness to how hard Sonita and people like Sonita’s lives really are.

I also really liked how humbling this film was. The longer the film went on, the more and more I was grateful for the life I have. I can say what I want. I can go to school for however long I want. I don’t have to work if I don’t want to. It really makes you think about how great our lives are here in Canada compared to Afghanistan and Iran.

On the left is Sonita Alezadeh and on the right is Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami.

My favourite part of the film was when it was just the director, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, and Sonita sitting in Sonita’s bedroom. As they’re talking, Sonita asks if she can use Ghaemmaghami’s camera. Sonita is pretty mystified with the camera at first, but then starts getting the hang of it and begins asking Rokhsareh some pretty meaningful questions. This is one of the first scenes you see that you can tell Sonita is not some ordinary girl and she has the potential of going places in life.

I’ll admit this movie left me pretty speechless. I came out of the theater completely dumbfounded and without words. I thought this film was amazing and I definitely recommend this movie. If you’d like to go see it, it is playing at Eau Claire On October 2nd at 7:30 pm!


Cheer Up – CIFF 2016

cheer-up-jpg-size-custom-crop-1086x612Cheer Up

86 minutes


This documentary is about the Arctic Circle Spirit Cheerleaders, also known as the Ice Queens, and their competitive journey in Finland. At the beginning of the film we see that they have always finished in last place. Through the stories of cheerleaders Patu and Aino, and their coach Miia, we discover just how hard it is to be a cheerleader.

I have to say, I had some really low expectations for this film. First of all, it’s about cheerleading. Second of all, it’s a documentary about cheerleading. Lastly, it’s a documentary about cheerleading in Finland! It sounded so strange that I had to see it. I assumed it would be a Finnish version of Bring it On – I was wrong.

I loved how this film didn’t just focus on cheerleading, but also on the lives of the cheerleaders and how tough a sport it is to do competitively. You can tell how much they want to be the best! By the end, the whole team is  gritting their teeth because they can almost taste the championship. The one who wants it the most is the coach Miia; you feel for her because you can see that she knows her team isn’t very good, but she loves them anyways, she makes them work so hard so that they can win.

This documentary is really relateable. It shows the cheerleading team working hard (they practiced everyday for two hours) trying to get better. Their hard work is rewarded with eyelashes falling out and broken noses. Still, they never give up through all of the curveballs life throws at this team, they keep practicing. I think that is so inspirational. They love what they’re doing so they are working so incredibly hard at it, in the sheer hopes of getting better.  

The only thing that I didn’t really like was that the beginning was a little slow. Nothing really happened until 20-30 minutes into the film. During the Q & A that happened after the screening, Christy Garland (the director) talked about how the cheerleaders were very shy around her for the first bit of shooting. I can only assume that’s why things heated up only after the first bit. That is such a minor thing though, so I can barely fault the film for it.

I brought my friend Satchi to the screening because she is in competitive violin with me and we both could relate so much to the emotions they all felt. We understood how they felt when they got last place, how they felt when they practiced everyday for two hours, when they hurt their bodies from practicing so hard. We understood it all.

All in all, this movie was great. It was engaging, it was captivating and it wasn’t just any movie about cheerleading. I really recommend this film and it’s playing again on Saturday October 1st at 11:15am at Eau Claire for CIFF 2016. I highly suggest everyone go and see it.

Considering Love and Other Magic – CIFF 2016

photo_3187-mdConsidering Love and Other Magic

93 minutes


On Tuesday night, I went to go see the world premiere of Considering Love and Other Magic.

This film is about a seventeen year old girl named Jessie who’s trying to come to terms with the suicide of her younger brother. It’s been very difficult. She has to see a psychologist two times a week, she’s failing almost all of her courses and she thought her shrink’s chair was red, until she told Jessie that it was actually white. When Jessie’s best friend Bridget finds out that Jessie is failing, she signs Jessie up to tutor kids for extra credit. The first boy Jessie has to tutor thinks he’s a work of fiction. With the help of Bridget, this new mysterious boy and a potential crush, Jessie will try to overcome her brother’s death.

Typically in a young adult film about real life, only one character has a compelling story arc and learns to grow as a character. In Considering Love and Other Magic, almost everyone learns something by the end. For example; Jessie learns to ask for help from others, Steven learns it’s okay to tell people your problems, Uncle Jasper learns that honesty is the best policy, Jessie’s mom learns its ok to let go,   etc…throughout the film it seemed like maturity was contagious.

Jessie had some great inner monologues throughout the film. I like the way she talks to the audience. The use of the monologues allows us to tell exactly what Jessie was thinking or feeling, you didn’t have to rely on what she actually says and does during a scene.

consideringlove-photo2This film is one of the first movies I’ve seen so far at the Calgary International Film Festival in 2016 that I think is truly directed to my age group. This film wasn’t just another teen movie about how hard the life of a teenager is, but it does talk about some of the struggles. It also doesn’t seem like the actors are trying too hard to be “your average teenager”, they just tried to be their characters, flaws and all. 

I also really enjoyed Maddie Phillips performance as Jessie. She brought Jessie to life as a three-dimensional character. Plus, she took teenage angst to the next level.

I took my friend Reatha to this movie because she’s around the same age as me and I thought she’d like this take at an abnormal teenage life. She also really liked it!

In conclusion, this film was great. It wasn’t trying to be a teen movie, it was trying to be a movie about teens, and I felt that was the secret to its success. It was entertaining; it had some light hearted parts like when Tommy is recreating a landing from space to earth,and some sad parts too like when they’re showing Jessie’s brother’s suicide. The entire audience was engaged and paid attention throughout. I really recommend this film for anyone of the over age of 12 (there´s some swearing.) 

It’s playing again at CIFF  Sunday, October 2nd at 11:45 am! Get your friends and go see it!

In Real Life

real-postcard-4x6-front-finalIn Real Life

Jessica Love

224 Pages


Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper talk to each other everyday, consistently shower each other with gifts, and tell each other everything. They’re typical best friends, there’s just one slight problem; they’ve never actually met.

When Hannah’s spring break plans go awry, she finally decides to meet her best friend who just happens to live in Las Vegas. Plus his band is playing at the House of Blues. Hannah will go with her legal adult sister Grace, and her immature friend Lo, and finally meet the ghost she’s been talking to for four years.

I thought this book was very good. I liked how incredibly detailed the story was. From all the Las Vegas parties, to the many facial expressions of Nick Cooper to Hannah’s deep and intense fear of roller coasters. The way the author described Hannah’s thoughts and the action throughout the whole novel was so wonderful. It made me feel like I was a part of the group having an adventure in Las Vegas. The fact that it was so thorough and cleverly planned out made it seem so organic and unpredictable, which I thought was great. Stories similar to this can be very foreseeable but this one managed to keep me engaged.

I also really liked how it took place in just a weekend. Due to the fact that it was only a weekend, Jessica Love was able to go through every little thing that happened. You knew where they were every minute of the day, what was going through their minds and what was constantly going on around the characters. The weekend started with Hannah wanting to go meet Nick on the Friday night, Grace, Lo and Hannah drive out to Vegas Saturday morning, the whole shenanigans of the entire novel happens Saturday night, and then they drive home Sunday morning! The story wasn’t stretched out for a long period of time, so the author had the ability to really make it feel like an adventure out on the town of Las Vegas. She could  jam pack the story with problems and details without needing to stretch out the story over many days.

I also thought it did a great being super relatable. I understood everything that was going on inside Hannah’s mind and had totally felt that way before, she’s a character that goes through very normal struggles, like not wanting to have a bad reputation, but wanting to be free of the rules. Or how she is really scared of something and will do anything to avoid it. Or simply how she has feelings for someone, but she doesn’t want to tell the other person out of the fear of rejection.

I felt like the character Lo (Hannah’s best friend in real life) could have been expanded more. I know that because of the time restraint there wasn’t a lot of room for character development aside from the main characters, but I wanted to learn about Hannah’s party girl counterpart, or for Lo to mature, or grow up or something by the end of the story.

I didn’t like how Lo told Hannah to make Nick jealous by flirting with Jordy, then Jordy and Hannah kissed and that whole scene was not only very cringe worthy, but I think it wasn’t written as well as it could have been. It was written in a way where it didn’t add very much to the story and what it did add, it could have been put somewhere else and the story would have been just fine.

To conclude, this book was pretty decent. There were a few bumps in the road, but it was a good short weekend read. If you’re looking for something short and sweet, I recommend this book. I binge read it in two days.

Stranger Things

stranger-things-poster-netflix1Stranger Things

8 Episodes


William Byers was riding home from a ten hour Dungeons and Dragons campaign with his friends Lucas and Dustin (Toothless) at their friend Michael’s house when suddenly William disappears. The next morning, his distraught mother, Joyce Byers calls the Hawkins police department to see what they can do and the group of kids find this mysterious girl named Eleven.  As Hawkins chief of police ‘Hopper’ delves more and more into the case, he realizes things might be stranger than they seem.

I loved this TV series. I was so glad that I could binge watch it. It was almost like watching an 8 hour long movie! At the end of each episode I was so caught up in the story line that I was sitting at the edge of my seat. I could barely wait the 10 seconds it took for the next episode to load.  

My favourite character was Michael’s friend Dustin. He was hilarious and even if he was just a supporting character, the actor who played him did an amazing job. Toothless was always the voice of reason in the group, everyone could always count on him to figure a way out of a tough situation. I know the actor is only a kid but he out-acted almost everyone in the whole show!

I was not a fan of ‘the upside down’; the home of ‘the monster’. It was a little hard to follow when they had scenes that switched between the normal world and the upside down. I kind of wished they had explained the upside down and what Eleven did in it a bit more, but that lack of explaining is what made it so mysterious, so I can hardly dock points off for it.

66-0-0I enjoyed how this show was all about the kids and the kids did most of the story telling. They were good at it too! Props to Eleven for conveying so much emotion without almost any words. That made her character that more unexplainable and mystifying. The group of kids had to deal with some adult situations like taking care of Eleven by themselves and trying to find Will all by themselves.  and they just dealt with them like adults. Who could ask for anything more more?

I thought the flashback scenes to Eleven’s time in the facility were great. I really liked how something seemingly normal would happen and she would get triggered. Then we would see something from her memory that would give us a new clue in the mystery of the show. I loved how the show weaved through the past and the present like it was no big deal and every time we learned something important about the beloved characters of the series.

When the last episode of the season ended I was so sad. They left quite a few doors open for their season two that has already been confirmed and I cannot wait. If you were on the fence about watching this TV series, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already seen it, I recommend you watch it again. If you’ve done all of the above then just bask in the glory that is this TV show.




Michael Grant


558 Pages

Sam was sitting in class, when all of a sudden everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared into thin the air. Now, all the teenagers within the area of Perdido Beach, California who would normally be spending their time surfing or reading a book, must take care of the younger children and try to find a way to get out the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). Meanwhile, kids from the private school up the hill from the town that was also affected are trying to take over the town and kill all the teenagers that stand in their way.

I really liked how this novel was post apocalyptic and yet, it didn’t seem like that was all the story was about. There was also the elements of self conflict in the minds of Sam and Computer Jack. Plus the fact that the private school kids fought the town kids for dominance in the area, gang style.

My favourite character was Computer Jack. He was a kid from the private school trying to take over the town. Jack had extreme computer skills, hence the nickname. The older kids used Jack for his knowledge on technology and didn’t give him very much in return. Throughout the book you get little snippets of what’s going on in his mind – he is fully aware that he is working for the bad kids but there’s nothing he can do about it, because he is being constantly bullied by those same bad people.

Something that I had a problem with is the fact that the character Astrid (she’s from the town) is nicknamed ‘Astrid the Genius’ but as you go through the book she uses less and less of her logic skills and has to be saved by Sam more and more. Coincidentally, as the book goes along, Sam and Astrid fall in love. That doesn’t mean Astrid can’t fix problems with her giant brain just because Sam likes her and she likes Sam.

Another thing that I was not a fan of was this other worldly creature called ‘The Darkness’, it was only barely introduced and didn’t really have a large role. I feel like you could have taken The Darkness out completely and the story would have been fine. Now, this book is the first in a long series so The Darkness could have a much larger role in the following novels but for now, he/she/it is a pretty useless character.
Still, this book was pretty good, it was a great post-apocalyptic book, there were just a few problems in the story line. I recommend this book for post-apocalyptic lovers and haters alike!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me_and_Earl_and_the_Dying_GirlMe And Earl and The Dying Girl

Jesse Andrews

304 Pages


Greg Gaines doesn’t want to stick out in High School, he just wants to make movies. By senior year he has accomplished just that by being almost friends with everyone in High School, that is until his mom forces him to hang out with a girl named Rachel Kushner who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. When Greg starts to spend more and more time with Rachel, his grades start to plummet and College opportunities start to disappear. Can Greg fix his life while still trying to make Rachel’s better at the same time?

I really liked this book. I liked how funny it was. It’s told in first person in the perspective of Greg and Greg’s one funny guy. He’ll write some events in his life in script format or, if someone gave him a long lecture, he’ll write it in bullet form. Plus, he’s pretty honest about what he writes; he’ll call his writing garbage or himself lame or a situation super awkward.

My favourite character is Earl. He is Greg’s closest thing to a friend, but he’s mostly just a business partner and coworker.  He’s the guy that Greg works with on his films.  I liked Earl because the world dealt him the worst deck of cards in the game of life, but he still did his best. He had a dad worked in Texas (they’re living in Pittsburgh), has a step dad in jail, a mom that is an alcoholic and doesn’t leave her room, his multiple brothers and stepbrothers are in gangs and are drug dealers. Plus, he’s really short so no one will take him seriously. That kind of life doesn’t sound very fun at all.

Earl also has a very different sense of humour than Greg. Due to Earl’s upbringing, he is definitely not the brightest crayon in the box and does not have the linguistics of your average high schooler, but he always gets his point across. Whether he wants to be heartfelt, funny or disgusting, everyone always understands Earl.

What I wasn’t a big fan of, was the way the story flowed. The entire book kept building and building on how Greg’s life was changing because of Rachel. It always felt like the climax was coming, but it never came until the last few pages . I’m no story teller, but I took grade seven English, so I know the climax is supposed to be around the middle, not the end.

I also didn’t like how Rachel did end up dying. I know that the entire novel was leading up to her dying, but I still wanted her to live, or at least die more elaborately or in a more significant way.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this novel, I liked the humour, characters and writing style, but like life, it wasn’t perfect. It was still a good read though. I read it in less than a week because I couldn’t put it down!