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'My Voice, My Life' documents Hong Kong's version of 'Glee'

'My Voice, My Life' documents Hong Kong's version of 'Glee'
Agroup of underprivileged high school students in Hong Kong come together to create a musical in the documentary "My Voice, My Life." (L&H Foundation)

The documentary "My Voice, My Life" recounts the mounting of the Hong Kong stage musical "The Awakening" from casting to opening night in 2013. The production featured 31 students from Hong Kong's lowest ranked high schools, most of whom were at-risk or visually impaired.

The same nonprofit produced the musical and the documentary, so a self-congratulatory air permeates the movie. The opening titles equate the proceedings to Hong Kong's 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Revolution, when in reality they are more like "Glee."

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The musical itself has little artistic or social value. It's composed of Cantonese covers of tunes from "Fame," "Hairspray," "Les Misérables," "Miss Saigon" and other productions complete with adapted lyrics that are clichéd and corny, even by Broadway standards.

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The film seems to champion an alternative education for troubled or disabled youths. While all that jazz might be novel for students in Hong Kong, American viewers will see the same old authoritarian style of talking down to kids. The film might have gained some heft had director Ruby Yang let the transformations unfold before our eyes instead of force-feeding us testimonials.

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"My Voice, My Life."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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