Stealing School Review – A Compelling Dark Comedic Drama

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Stealing School, from Vertical Entertainment, presents a dramatic comedy on higher education integrity as a brilliant tech prodigy is accused of cheating and must prove her innocence in a secret trial held before a review board.

The film centers on an academic tribunal at a Canadian University. The Ph.D. student April Chen, played by name, is accused by a history Teaching Assistant Keith Ward, played by Jonathan Keltz, of plagiarizing a paragraph in her history final.


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Throughout this mock criminal trial, which essentially is set to determine if the student should be permitted to graduate. The History Department Chair believes the entire incident should be dropped, which lends credibility to the initial belief the student is being targeted.

As the afternoon wears on, we see in flashbacks the student has met with the TA on several occasions addressing the same allegations. She comes off as glib and cavalier.

Also layered into this tribunal are ulterior motives of each of the players, the newly hired administrator who is concerned with appearances, each of the professors hoping their indiscretions won't become known, the TA frustrated unable to find a university employment, a student member of the tribunal agreeing to leak the confidential meeting.


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Throughout the afternoon, frequent breaks in the inquiry create the opportunity for each of the players to confront the hidden and underlying tensions. Strategic air vents provide a megaphone of private conversations which feed each with hidden secrets, needs and agendas.

As the afternoon wears on, the gloves come off and professionalism and niceties are replaced with accusations of underhanded, sneaky, deceitful attempts at career destruction. The tension between the accused and her accuser build to a near explosive intensity.

After a parade of interesting witnesses, who explain various stages of academic tutoring as well as an emerging start-up service offering full assistance to students struggling with assignments. As the evidence builds, through flashbacks we see appearances are not always as they seem.


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Jealousy of accomplishments, employment opportunities, targeting of minority students, a division of us and them, in country birthright citizens and adopted citizenship granted to immigrants and the hidden underlying belief structures that cause prejudice to rise.

At the end of the day, the realities that brought them into this arena, is no different than when it began, save the fact the hidden dark deeds each held in secret has now been exposed leaving everyone the worse as reinforced stereotypes, beliefs, ideals, the loss of academic integrity, has been given the freedom to escape.

Stealing School, for those with any association to academia or university life, is an over-the-top dark comedy with moments of levity. For others it is an indictment of a double standard system that refuses, for the good of the university, to hold all to the same benchmark.

The ensemble cast deliver strong performances and clearly identify the essence of each of the characters.

Stealing School, a dark dramady, is available on VOD. See it.


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Country: Canada

Runtime: 75minutes.

Director: Li Dong.

Writer: Li Dong.

Producer: Mark Sirju.

Cast: Celine Tsai, Jonathan Keltz, Michelle Monteith, Darrin Baker, Matthew Edison, Jonathan Malen, Mpho Koaho, Guy Bradford, Andy Yu, Vas Saranga, Kayleigh Shikanai, Sugith Varughese, Adrienne Wilson, Clare Mcconnell, John Novak, Darren Marsman.

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