This year’s Chinese Documentary Festival, which runs from 9th September to 16th October, will showcase over thirty films from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan across three categories – Features, Shorts and Selection of Hong Kong Documentaries. The films encompass a wide range of themes including art, politics, religion and current affairs. Several of the films directors will attend the Festival to share their experience with the audiences.
The featured Chinese documentaries tend to focus on social issues such as demolition and education – My Land and Wandering Village both discuss the issue of demolition, with the former describing an agricultural family’s struggle for their land and the latter utilising the recycling industry as the background of the woes that workers have due to demolition. A Purpose Built School highlights how the “Gaokao Factory” twists the meaning of education, while Xu Tong’s Cut Out the Eyes takes the historical drama Er Ren Tai to the cinema, morphing the protagonist’s misfortunes into a complain against violence.
The Taiwanese films are relatively more emotional. Kuo Shiao-yun’s Meeting with Bodhisattva documents how Taiwan’s U-Theatre has guided a group of released inmates to rise above their old habits and temptations. In My Foreign Hometown, foreign brides in the Hakka community shows a united and positive attitude towards life. Trapped at Sea, Lost in Time is a major production, and tells the stories of fishermen far away from home. Rolling on the Stage, Rolling for Life brings to the audience the art of Taiwanese folk opera, while depicting the thrilling stories of the opera troupe members behind the stage.
This year’s Shorts category focuses on the many highs and lows of life. Taiwanese director Shen Ko-shang’s Murmuring Days captures the moments of cancer patients with their families, showing how love shines through even the darkest of times. Stand By You provides an account of social welfare organisations aiding children with experiences of misfortune, impressing audiences with its underlying sentiment. A Story of the Remainders documents an ordinary family plunged into turmoil, bringing to light the devastating change that resulted from the demolition of Taiwan’s military communities. Shangshu Seminary witnesses the reconstruction process of this Sichuan Catholic monastery, with the alarming murders that happened in the course of reconstruction showing the dark side of human nature; on the flipside, Atayal Mother’s Peaches uses the story of a peach farming family to show the resilience Taiwans’s aborigines retain in the face of adversity. A Perfect Crash documents the political downfall of Sunflower Movement student leader Chen Wei-ting due to a sex scandal, while Nameless provides the openly humourous attitude a street vendor poses towards overcoming the challenges in life.
Selection of Hong Kong Documentaries
With the media increasingly self-censoring, documentaries are becoming an important medium to expose the stories the media won’t cover. This year’s Selection of Hong Kong Documentaries category contains several impressive films. Cheung King Wai’s The Taste of Youth lends an ear to the heartfelt confessions of nine teenagers, broadcasting the neglected voices of society’s young ones. In Parent Cheering Team, parents and children are similarly engaged and excited in baseball, with the pricelessness of family relations emerging from within. Kong Rice witnesses the involvement of a teacher in a revival of agriculture movement in the New Territories, with the aim of environmental conservation. Yellowing and 75 Days: Life, Liberty and Happiness record the comings and goings of the Umbrella Movement, while Van Drivers 2 sees the Umbrella Movement through the eyes of volunteer workers. More than Conquerors provides a discussion on the relationship between religion and society, while the unique Zero Acceleration employs fantastic camerawork to lead the audience from bustling city life into an urban oasis. Tai O Diary, the works of Visible Record’s Master Class 2015, shows the charms of Tai O in different aspects.
Chinese Documentary Festival 2016
Date: 9 September – 16 October, 2016
Hong Kong Space Museum (10 Salisbury Road, TST)
Hong Kong Science Museum (2 Observatory Road, TST)
The Grand Cinema (2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, TST)
Tickets: $85, $70
More info: www.visiblerecord.com