By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
This was the third documentary I watched at the festival. I truly am surprised at the amount and quality of the documentaries this genre festival has to offer. This particular film by writer/director Matthew Salton takes its audience to The Kingdom of the Little People, a theme park in China which features diminutive performers and entertainers as the attractions. Considered to be one of the most offensive theme parks in the world, The Kingdom, which basically acts as a modern day “sideshow” employs over one-hundred performers who would otherwise be unemployed or working menial or other demeaning jobs. The prejudice against people suffering from dwarfism is what barely keeps this odd and sad theme park in business and keeps the employees from getting better jobs.
Salton’s documentary goes in depth in showing the real people exploited by The Kingdom. Some of the performers put on a façade of contentment, while others hope and pray for other employment opportunities. The film is a well done portrait of disadvantaged people who continue to struggle in coping with the prejudices of others. For Americans and others in more enlightened nations, this film serves as a reminder of how horribly people can treat those who are different or have disadvantages. Some audiences may be quick to accuse Salton of making the film for exploitive purposes. However, he not only explores the oddity that is this theme park, he reveals the hearts of these real people who just want to lead happy lives and be treated fairly like the rest of us.