Mai's America | Chicago Reader

Mai's America

An exchange student from Hanoi completes her senior year at a Mississippi high school and her freshman year at Tulane University in this documentary by Marlo Poras. Mai, daughter of a hotel manager, is cheerful, talkative, inquisitive, and fearless, and she adapts quickly, moving from a host family in a trailer park to the home of a young black couple and befriending a gay transvestite. Poras seems to have staged many scenes, apparently in hopes of documenting racial tolerance in the south, and her disingenuousness becomes as grating as Mai's perpetual smile. Yet the girl's lucky break and the pressure from her parents to finish college in the U.S. make for a compelling story. 72 min.

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