03 Chin Up
This Film Guide will continue to build on students’ critical-thinking skills and analysis of film. Below you’ll find conversation prompts and writing activities that encourage connections to student experiences, and help build empathy and understanding in relation to the theme of identity.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read the Note to Teachers—you’ll find tips for watching short films with your class and helpful resources for inquiry-based discussions.
Use the following prompts to prepare the group to watch the film thoughtfully.
- In just a few words, describe the two films we’ve seen so far.
- Were the films fiction or nonfiction? How could you tell?
- What are some things you might expect to see or hear in a nonfiction film?
- Why do you think a filmmaker might choose to make a nonfiction film?
Visit the Glossary + Film Terms page for definitions of these terms.
- We’re going to watch CHIN UP by JoAnne Salmon.
- The film is about 4 minutes long.
- It’s important not to talk or take notes during the first viewing, since it may cause you to miss something important! In a short film, every image and sound is important to the story being told.
- We will watch the film again later in the lesson.
Watch the film together and gather initial reactions using open-ended questions.
Follow the film screening with a moment of pause for the group to gather their thoughts. Ask the open-ended questions below and record students’ answers. Have students support their observations with evidence by asking, “What did you see that makes you say that?”
- What did you see? What did you notice about this film?
- What are some words you might use to describe this film?
- What moments in this short film stood out for you? Why?
- Compare CHIN UP to the previous two films we’ve watched. In what ways are the films similar or different?
- Did the film give you any new ideas?
- You can watch the film as a group by sharing your screen, and selecting the “optimize for video sharing”option. Make sure all participants (including yourself) are muted while the film plays.
- Have students break up into pairs (use breakout rooms) to share their thoughts before sharing with the whole class.
If you need a link to share this film with your students, email us at email@example.com.
A Closer Look
Consider selecting a question to ask in advance of watching the film again, but this time have students take notes while viewing.
Ask the questions below, taking a pause to give students time to think about their answers. Encourage them to support their answers with evidence from the film by asking, “What makes you say that?”
- Based on what we saw in the film, what words might you use to describe JoAnne Salmon?
- Based on what we saw in the film, how do you think JoAnne felt about being different when she was a little girl?
- How do you think she might feel about it now that she has grown up?
- Early in the film, JoAnne talks about realizing she was different when she was bullied at school. Compare JoAnne’s real-life experience shared in CHIN UP with that of T-Kesh’s in WELCOME TO MY LIFE.
- Was there ever a time when you felt different from those around you? What made you feel that way? Do you still feel that way? Why or why not? Has anything changed? (You may choose to start by giving a personal example.)
- Pause the film to look at still images and notice the many ways the filmmaker illustrates her ideas and her stories.
- What do you notice in the still images?
The Bigger Conversation
In CHIN UP we learned from filmmaker JoAnne Salmon about the ways that having a disability both inspired her and presented challenges. Ask students to identify and research other artists that have excelled at their craft despite a disability. They can be filmmakers, authors, painters, sculptors, actors, singers, performers, etc. Have students share their research and findings with the class. Provide the following questions to guide their research.
- What kind of artist are they? How would you describe their art?
- What is something interesting that you learned about the artist? What makes them unique?
- What are some challenges they faced? Who supported them?
- What are some of the successes they experienced despite the challenges?
Have students research more about Treacher Collins Syndrome. As a class or in small groups, individuals can share information about the ways in which the disability could affect—but not define—an individual.
JoAnne mentions in the film that her difference was even more challenging because of society’s expectations of girls and women.
What are some ways that films and other media might make people think that they should look a certain way?
- Social Justice Standards – Teaching Tolerance
- MoMA’s Working for Disability Equality list of resources
- MoMa’s Disability and Equality playlist, hear first-hand from New Yorkers about their experiences and perspectives on disability equality.
Behind the Scenes
The filmmaker of CHIN UP, JoAnne Salmon, created this autobiographical story about her path to becoming an artist and a filmmaker.
- Have you ever seen a documentary before?
- Briefly describe a documentary you’ve seen. What was the subject?
- How could you tell it was a documentary?
- How is CHIN UP similar to or different from other documentaries you have seen?
JoAnne Salmon calls this film “An animated story of self-acceptance.” Use the questions below to explore some of the decisions that JoAnne made to convey the story to us, the viewers.
- Why do you think JoAnne Salmon might have wanted to tell this story?
- Why do you think JoAnne might have chosen to tell this story as a documentary?
- How might the film be different if it was told as a fictional story with actors?
- Why do you think she might have chosen to use animation in her documentary?
- Discuss the film’s title, CHIN UP. Ask students to think and expand on the meaning of the title.
JoAnne Salmon is the director of CHIN UP, an animated documentary about her own life and her experience with Treacher Collins Syndrome. Growing up in the UK, she dreamed of becoming an animator and now she works at LoveLove studio creating animated films, shows, and advertisements. In her own words, “It is a dream come true!”
Let students know that while the filmmaker might have had a message or idea in mind, we are all welcome to interpret the film in our own way.
How or why did you become interested in filmmaking?
I have always been interested in the art of filmmaking and animation. It seemed so limitless and free. When I was little I would spend hours pausing cartoons and live action movies and tracing over the characters with cling film. I loved dynamic movements and poses.
What do you like most about animation?
The limitless creativity! In animation there is no limit to storytelling. It’s the most expressive way to create for me and it’s a great way to express myself. I do like drawing myself as a character as it lets me go through adventures without even leaving the room. I always draw my features as they are as it’s fun to see someone look like me in fun adventures such as riding a unicorn or swimming like a mermaid. I have had some heart warming comments from others with Treacher Collins saying how they like seeing a character that represents them in fun illustrations.
What is something that you think people don’t know about being an animator?
I suppose some people maybe don’t see how hard we work and the amount of time, effort, and passion goes into our work. For an animation to be made there are so many stages it has to go through and each stage is very important. It’s a huge team effort and every role is hugely important in the creative process.
What small moments have brought you joy recently? What new hobbies and interests have you discovered?
I have found great joy in the moments I have had time to create my own illustrations and projects. I enjoy Illustrating and writing as well as animation. ∎
- Is there anything you do that can make you feel better when things are not going so great? Do you like to draw (like JoAnne), or play a sport or an instrument, or even take a walk in the park?
- Have students break up into pairs and exchange ideas about what they do to try and feel better.
Have students step inside the perspective of the characters with a letter-writing activity (Any combination of characters from the three films we’ve watched can serve as inspiration below.)
- Since we’ve seen JoAnne grow up and overcome her challenges, do you think she would have any advice for T-Kesh of WELCOME TO MY LIFE? Imagine you are JoAnne and write a letter to T-Kesh.
- Or imagine that you are T-Kesh and write a letter to JoAnne about seeing her film.
- Or, draft a letter to Zoey (WASH DAY) in which T-Kesh and JoAnne both ask and offer advice.
04 Amelia’s Closet
An incisive and moving film about a young Black student’s experiences with racism and privilege in the classroom; fosters dialogues about race, class, perspective-shifting, and understanding.