‘Distinction’ is a brutal, beautiful and honest story about the lives of special needs families [Review]

Kelly Ho |

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Inspired by true events, Jevons Au’s new film Distinction is an honest and poignant look at the lives of those caring for children with special needs.

The plot follows three different characters: Miss Tsui (Jo Koo), Zoey (Jennifer Yu) and Ka-ho (Kaki Sham). Miss Tsui has spent eight years teaching at a special education school, and to the outside world, her job couldn’t be more fulfilling. In reality, she is at her wit’s end trying to put together a school musical starring students from all the schools in the area.

Meanwhile, Zoey is a struggling student at a top secondary school. Painfully shy, she can usually be found with her face buried in a book – that is, until she becomes involved in the musical, and rediscovers her love of the arts.

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Also roped into the musical is Ka-ho, whose younger brother has special needs. A teen rebel whose university prospects don’t look great, Ka-ho is given a glimpse at a different career path when he joins the musical – as well as a chance to bond with his brother.

Each character is effortlessly brought to life by an incredible cast, while Au does a great job of drawing attention to the social stigmas surrounding special needs, as well as the pressures family members and teachers face.

Ultimately, Distinction is a film that delivers a beautiful message of love and acceptance.