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It’s clear what Chao Gan, director of The Red Race, want us to feel about China’s gymnastics training schools for children. The documentary is mostly a series of scenes in which adorable kids are brought to tears by screaming coaches who push them past their breaking points physically and emotionally. For example, a coach kicks the legs of one little girl while she’s in mid-jump so she falls on her side; another coach pinches the itty-bitty amount of baby fat on one boy’s stomach and tells him he makes the whole team look fat; a coach takes the arm of a girl on a balance beam and yanks her off of it. The film is designed to pull at your heartstrings until you want to scoop up a pigtailed girl and shower her with love. But after the emotions settle, The Red Race is mostly just frustrating. It lacks narration and is filled with conversations that feel staged, and very little information is conveyed aside from the intensity of gymnastic training in Beijing. How old are the kids? How did they end up at this school? When do they see their families? Do they want to be there? All these seemingly obvious questions are never answered. And once you’re done drying your eyes, a final one—Why did I just put myself through that?—will apply to the kids as well as yourself. —KG