Spotlight Screenings | 2018 | 93 minutes
Stranger Says: The best way to understand and experience eighth grade for today’s 13-year-olds, along with all of its joys and terrors, is to watch this charming film. Eighth Grade made me remember those days when wanting to be popular or cool or merely accepted felt more important than any of the life-and-death tragedies of the world that were happening around me. Elsie Fisher as Kayla is destined to be a new star with her performance as a sweet, vulnerable, and outcast YouTube personality with no followers who is mostly ignored by her peers. All Kayla wants is to be the coolest girl in the world, and what she doesn’t realize is that she already is (and will someday find this out)! (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Says:Most of us didn’t have our lives figured out by eighth grade graduation, despite best efforts to prove otherwise in the face of our classmates. Smart phones and convenient tech have brought the existential dread of not being cool all the way home 24/7 for kids of the current generation. Without the threat of Russian strike, today’s kids have far more intimate—but no less visceral—concerns. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut weeds through the minefield that is modern adolescence through the view of Kayla, a thoughtful 13-year-old girl on the precipice of completing junior high. A social media life coach of sorts, Kayla produces YouTube videos to her imaginary subscribers about self-love and confidence, yet can't quite put these into practice in her own life. In avoiding typical autobiographical coming-of-age film clichés, Burnham, a renowned 27-year-old male comedian, tells his own empathetic tale through the eyes and voice of a female middle-schooler. EIGHTH GRADE pulls the extraordinary out of the ordinary with a unique story amidst the average teen experience. Whether you're a current student, or an adult whose middle school years are long gone, Kayla (and Bo's) tale strikes home for any who have questioned if they belonged.
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