Nuns on ScreenTrailblazers in Habits, a documentary film about an American order of nuns by the JMSC’s Nancy Tong, continues to make waves in Hong Kong and abroad.

A special showing of the film was held in February in Hong Kong, while an earlier one in October 2013 raised US$240,000 for the order, the Maryknoll Sisters. This was on top of US$410,000 raised since October 2012 at screenings in Canada and the U.S. and from DVD sales.

Meanwhile, Tong, a documentary filmmaker and Visiting Associate Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre, was profiled in the South China Morning Post in mid-March (printed version), discussing her personal experience as a student of the Maryknoll Sisters and her childhood memories of Hong Kong.

She also discussed the making of the documentary, and how it signaled a new direction from her previous, more hard-hitting films. Those include Who Killed Vincent Chin, which was nominated in 1989 for an Academy Award; In the Name of the Emperor, which was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1995; and Cancer: From Evolution to Revolution, which won a George Foster Peabody Award in 2000.

“When I finished this film (about the Maryknolls), I realised it was a departure from my other work, because my other films are all about war, diseases, dying and crimes, and this one is about the human spirit. It’s an inspirational story,” she told the SCMP.

bio-nancy-300x213Not one to rest on her laurels, Tong is already looking around for her next project. While she hasn’t settled on a subject, she said she’s no longer content to look at one isolated incident, but wants to look at the human experience and consider spiritual issues around it.

“I’ve just turned 60,” she was quoted as saying.  “I’m trying to find some reason for all these things – why do we live, why do we die, why do all these horrible things happen?”

In the Maryknoll film, she told the SCMP, “there is a very universal theme in all their experiences, to look beyond yourself as how one relates to the rest of the world, whether it is joy or suffering – even if you suffer, don’t take the joy away.”

Tong divides her time between Hong Kong and New York.  She is currently teaching courses on Documentary Video Production and Documentary Film Appreciation at the JMSC.

14 March 2014

JMSC Professor and Filmmaker Featured in SCMP Profile

Trailblazers in Habits, a documentary film about an American order of nuns, continues to make waves in Hong Kong and abroad. Its director and producer, JMSC's Nancy Tong, was recently profiled in the South China Morning Post.
5 October 2013

JMSC Professor to Screen New Documentary on Maryknoll Sisters

Nancy Tong, Visiting Associate Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre, will screen her documentary, Trailblazers in Habits, October 7 at Hong Kong University’s Rayson Huang Theatre.
4 October 2013

NUNS ON SCREEN – screening and panel

The “veil,” not unlike the “screen,” conceals as much as it reveals. While the veil typically defines the “nun” for all to see, it also hides her from view and can make her an object of mystery and inaccessibility—out of reach, out of touch, an anachronistic relic from out of the past. However, nuns are also hardworking modern women, who have made enormous sacrifices to heal the sick, teach, and offer spiritual as well as physical comfort to the afflicted. Screen depictions of religious women have included both extremes, but we seldom have the opportunity to contemplate these contradictions or look critically at the way in which nuns are depicted in the cinema (in commercial features as well as documentaries and experimental films). This panel addresses that by providing a forum for the consideration of two important new works on nuns—director Nancy Tong’s moving documentary film on the Maryknoll sisters, Trailblazers in Habits, and Maureen Sabine’s pioneering book on Hollywood’s fascination with nuns, Veiled Desires: Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film.
31 May 2013

JMSC’s Nancy Tong Screens her Documentary on Maryknoll Sisters

The Maryknoll Mission sisters, an order established in early 20th century America, have travelled to exotic locations and have often been at the centre of important geopolitical events. A documentary about the order, Trailblazers in […]
27 May 2013

May 29: Screening — Trailblazers in Habits – An Order of Nuns that Changed The World

JMSC Visiting Associate Professor Nancy Tong will host a screening of her new documentary Trailblazers in Habits at Hong Kong University’s Rayson Huang Theatre on Wednesday, May 29. The documentary, which was shown at the Sarasota Film […]
17 March 2013

Film by JMSC Professor Selected to be Screened at U.S. Film Festival

Trailblazers in Habits, a new documentary by JMSC Visiting Associate Professor Nancy Tong, has been accepted by the Sarasota Film Festival to be screened during its 2013 festival. “We’re absolutely thrilled about it”, said Tong, an […]
24 February 2011

View a Trailer of JMSC Film-Maker Nancy Tong’s Documentary on Trail-Blazing Nuns

This seven-minute trailer provides a taste of the new documentary under production by JMSC Visiting Associate Professor, Nancy Tong, and fellow academic, Vivien Ng. Trailblazers in Habits looks at the history behind, and the social […]
27 January 2011

JMSC’s Nancy Tong’s New Film Documents Trail-Blazing Nuns

Trailblazers in Habits is a historical documentary currently in production by JMSC Visiting Associate Professor, Nancy Tong, and fellow academic, Vivien Ng, examining the history behind, and the social impact of pioneering nuns, the Maryknoll Sisters.