Creative media students shine at international film festivals

Michael Gibb

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Students from the School of Creative Media (SCM) at City University of Hong Kong have been captivating audiences around the world and winning top honours recently at international film festivals with a mixture of experimental and short films.


Ms Wong Ying-ying, a Year 2 student studying for the BA in Creative Media (BACM), took home the Special Jury Award for her experimental film We Search at the 2nd Korea Youth International Film Festival in Seoul, while the films of three other SCM students who have graduated recently have been selected for screening at festivals in Berlin, Beijing and here in Hong Kong.


CityU is dedicated to encouraging students to showcase their creativity on the international stage by participating in film festivals around the world. The awards demonstrate CityU students' talents.


Ms Wong’s seven-minute improvised film explores concepts of gender using a static camera to observe the behaviour of a young man and woman playing around with bits of old material in an abandoned building. The film maker, who was trained as a secretary before she decided to take the plunge and sign up for the BACM, shot the film in KowloonBay over the course of a day.


Before the shoot, Ms Wong asked the actors to “do what they want” in front of the camera. As the film unfolds, on 12 split screens, the action is punctuated with comments from interviews with men and women in Hong Kong about their perceptions of gender roles and differences.


“I’ve watched many so-called experimental films by students, which are often quasi-narrative videos with no stories,” said Dr Louisa Wei Shiyu, Assistant Professor in the SCM and Ms Wong’s supervisor.


“This piece, however, not only experiments with an interesting idea, but also presents the idea with a meaningful form that multiplies the direct-cinema visuals with voices from interviews with real people,” Dr Wei said.


Ms Wong said her film was more experimental than other films at the festival in Seoul. “In the SCM, we learn about a wide variety of different film and video techniques, so we, the students, want to use them in our work to create something original, innovative and fresh,” she said.


She said she was overwhelmed when she heard that she had won the Special Jury Award. “The standard of the work of the contestants in Seoul was really high,” she said. Her focus now is to develop her final-year project.


Meanwhile, three SCM graduates showcased their work at the recent Berlin Asia-Pacific Film Festival. Pocket Money by MFA graduate Ms Connie Chan Man-yee investigates how children in Hong Kong first learn about “money”, how they earn their pocket money, and how parents use pocket money and other methods to raise their offspring.


A jury member in Berlin said Pocket Money was “an important reflection on society today”. The film was also selected for screening as one of the three entries from Hong Kong at the 4th International Student Film and Video Festival at the BeijingFilmAcademy, from 6 to 12 November.  


Two other BACM graduates also left their mark at the Berlin festival. A Moment of Time by Ms Li Pingping chronicles the events in the life of an unemployed young man who meets a young woman online, a story that was well received by the jury and audiences in Europe; and Just Love by Ms Fung King-long explores the love between two young women. The story is interwoven with interviews with women about homosexual experiences. The film also screened at this year’s Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.


“I watched nearly all the films at the graduation show this year and I was really impressed by the quality of a number of narrative video and short documentaries,” Dr Wei said.


“These three works screened at the Berlin festival are among the best and were well received by the audience. I’m not surprised they were selected for Berlin. They are creative, sincere, and concerned with Hong Kong and the lives of ordinary people living here,” she said.


In addition to Dr Wei, other SCM staff who acted as advisors on these productions includes Dr Steve Fore, Associate Professor; Mr Patrick Tam, Assistant Professor; and Ms Ellen Yuen, Instructor.



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