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Student documentaries tell stories of Hong Kong people


JMSC student filmmakers have produced documentaries telling the stories of ordinary Hong Kong people―delving into their dreams, struggles and searches for identity.

The documentaries, each lasting 15 minutes, were shown to HKU staff, students and members of the public at a screening in the Chong Yuet Ming Building on 16 May.

The films were part of the students’ coursework for a Master of Journalism documentary video production course and cover such diverse topics as the story of a refugee woman dreaming of reuniting with her child, and the relationship between Indians and Pakistanis living in Hong Kong.

Nancy Tong, Visiting Associate Professor at the JMSC and one of the instructors for the course said: ‘I think the video screening is one of the highlights of the JMSC every year, especially for the students who have worked so hard on these videos—they watch the videos on the big screen with an audience and can be proud of their accomplishments.’

Oscar-winning director Ruby Yang, also Honorary Professor at the JMSC and an instructor for the course, said that she was very proud of what the students had achieved. ‘I hope they will continue to build on this experience and choose to become documentary filmmakers in the future,’ she said.

During the screening event, the student filmmakers explained that they had learnt a lot during the production process.

Maggie Tan, director of ‘Laces’ emphasised the importance of being open to feedback and letting the story develop naturally: ‘One thing I’ve really learnt is to take constructive criticism—take it well and work on that to develop the story and let it evolve,’ she said. ‘I feel that it’s extremely important to keep an open mind and take the whole experience as a process of learning.’

Xu Xiaotong said that the nature of her film, ‘Out of Tune’, changed as she became more familiar with the subjects: ‘I was attracted by my two subjects’ music at the very beginning,’ she said. ‘I planned to make an artistic and beautiful documentary, but the two subjects were humorous and energetic. Gradually, the documentary ended up in this funny but also serious way.’

Practical considerations meant that the focus of ‘Sangwoodgoon’ also changed from what was originally envisaged. ‘There was a shift of focus in the story,’ said director Ariel Zhong. ‘Originally I wanted to look more at Chow’s past experience in political activism … during the production process, the most we could film was the farming activities, so we decided to focus more on the development of the farm instead of the past.’

Click on the links below to watch the films:

Pang Jai’ by Klara Xu, Yee Kai Poo, Zhefan Shen, Vicky Liang ‒ A mirror of the conflict between the fast growth of a city and preserving local characteristics at a fabric market.

Laces’ by Maggie Tan, Begona Blanco Munoz, Ryan Kilpatrick, Miranda Wu, Cecilia Li ‒ The journey of one refugee woman running towards freedom, with dreams of reuniting with her child.

Battle at Sangwoodgoon’ by Ariel Zhong, Jimmy Choi, Maria Fatima Valente, Chenyu Liang ‒ An experiment in community building as a social activist turns to farming in an effort to bring about social change.

Beyond Boundaries’ by Sahil Magoo, Olivia Zhang, Lingling Zhang, Corey Lau ‒ A look at the relationship Indians and Pakistanis share in a third country where they are not confined by borders or political/religious issues.

Out of Tune’ by Xu Xiaotong, Catherine Ou Yang, Yang Yuqing ‒ An exploration into the relationship between mainland Chinese and local students at HKU, and what it means for young musicians in the current age.