First, Lin Tsz-nok’s life and struggles with visual impairment were shown in a documentary by Ruby Yang, the Oscar-winning documentary maker and JMSC lecturer. Then he shared the stage with Yang at the film’s showing in the U.S., where he is exploring the next step in his life.
The documentary, “My Voice, My Life”, which chronicles the recent loss of Lin’s eyesight and his low self-confidence, was screened on 17 March at the Centre for Asian American Media film festival 2015 (CAAMfest) in San Francisco. Lin charmed the audience with his honesty and courage when he took to the stage after the screening, and he gave numerous interviews to Hong Kong and local journalists, talking about how the documentary had changed him.
Yang, who serves as a University of Hong Kong Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities, said the trip helped Lin grow in confidence and opened up possible new opportunities for him.
“He (Lin) is really the reason why I directed the film, because I saw something in him that is different. There is something about his energy and passion that drew me to him,” she said.
“I thought it would be good for him to go to the US and explore the possibility that he could study there and see how people in the same situation in the US are facing the same challenges.”
Lin was able to do just that, meeting two blind Hong Kong students who are currently studying at the University of California, Berkeley, getting advice on applying for universities in the US and learning about opportunities for the disabled in San Francisco.
His itinerary also included visits to Berkeley and Stanford University, and to organisations that support independent living for the blind. Travel expenses for him and his mother were supported by the Hong Kong Blind Union. and the itinerary was organized by the JMSC.
“My Voice My Life” follows Lin and a group of other under-privileged Hong Kong high school students who are cast to perform in a musical, and charts the challenges and personal transformation each student undergoes in preparing for the show.
The documentary had a successful commercial run in Hong Kong movie theatres, and was scheduled at film festivals across the US in March and April, including the Vail Film Festival in Colorado, the Nashville Film Festival in Tennessee, and CAAMFest.
The film also screened at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, where it was part of a series of SXSWedu talks about the role of development and arts in global education.
“I think this film will speak to a general audience because it’s about how you educate your next generation and about student teacher relationships and about students who don’t necessarily excel academically but can do well in other areas,” said Yang.