Family Album wins three awards at First College Students' Oral History Video Recording Contest

At the award presentation ceremony for the first College Students' Oral History Video Recording Contest held in Beijing on 10 May 2015, Family Album, a seventeen-episode documentary produced by the CityU team won three awards – the Best Team Award, the Best Oral History Video Recording Award, and an Excellent Supervisor Award.

Work on Family Album, a joint project carried out by staff and students of the Department of Media and Communication (COM), has been going on for two years. About 50 students have taken part, and 38 episodes have been produced so far. The retold stories are all set in the past of ordinary Chinese families.

The winner of the Excellent Supervisor Award was Ms LI Yuhong (third from right), Senior Research Associate (COM), who was supervisor for the project. She attaches great significance to the filming of those documentaries, saying that it has not only enabled the students to put their acquired knowledge and skills into practice, but has also given them an understanding of their own family histories in the course of the production. For example, they now know more about the "most familiar strangers" in their families.

The episode titled "60-2 East Dyke Bridgehead", which won the Best Oral History Video Recording Award, was made by MPhil student Zhou Fengting (fourth from left). The episode, displaying a high level of techniques while expressing delicate, genuine emotions, earned unanimous acclaim from the panel of judges. Mr LI Lun, a well-known documentary producer from mainland China, was particularly impressed, praising it as a work of sincerity that touches the heart.

The planned filming of 100 family histories will be completed in the next few years, as Ms Li disclosed. She believed that such documentary making, which centres around familial and personal histories, would display how the Chinese cherish their families and kith-and-kin ties, and at the same time urge the students to work whole-heartedly in the production.

The stories will not only relate closely to how the students themselves have grown up, but will also serve as a record of what their parents and even grandparents have gone through. It is these histories that have shaped what they are today. Family Album has invited students to document their own families and retell the stories of their family members, thus learning more about themselves. Here lies the key to success for the series of documentary.

Not a few young participants have thus become clear about their future career paths. The awards also inspired their confidence in making documentaries. From merely filming their family histories, they have come to reflect on their personal growth and the future ahead for them. All these things are far more meaningful than just clinching prizes from the competition, as Ms Li put it.