Awards Panel

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HUI Yin, aka Sun Son, graduated from CAP TV, and later worked in creation and performing at King Kong Crew. In October 2020, he co-founded Trial & Error with his friends, and is now working as “libraryin / Kwun Lei Yin.” His works Triple Tap 2021 and Uber Baba 2 (2021) were awarded “Best Short Film” in January and August, respectively. Participated in the first Ground Up Student Film Festival, but sadly, he did not get any awards.

 

CHAN Hau Chun graduated from the City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media. She is a cinematographer and independent filmmaker. Her works include Uncle Fai, 32+4, Call me Mrs Chan, and No Song to Sing. 32+4 was screened at numerous international film festivals, and Nominated for Golden Horse Award for Best Documentary.

 

WONG Cheuk Man was born in Hong Kong. She graduated from The Hong Kong Academy For Performing Arts, The School of Film and Television, where she majored in Screenwriting. Directing and screenwriting works include Yeung Yeung with Cows (2013), Man Chi (2016), Piled Cloud (2017), That Morning (2017), and Along the River (2019). Piled Cloud was screened at numerous international film festivals, and won Silver Award at ifva Awards and the Best Screenplay in Fresh Wave ISFF.

 

YEUNG Chun Yin, nicknamed “Salt” or “Uncle Salt” in Cantonese, graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences of The University of Hong Kong and the Department of Philosophy at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He went on to a PhD Programme in Humboldt University of Berlin and King’s College London to further his study. In 2016, Salt and his comrades established a group “Corrupt the Youth” and started to host “Philosophy Night” on RTHK31, aiming to introduce philosophy to the general public. He is now teaching philosophy and critical thinking courses in various tertiary institutions in Hong Kong.

 

LO Chun Yip is a director and actor. After graduating from the School of Creative Media of City University of Hong Kong, he started making independent films. In 2012, he finished his first feature film Days After n Coming, which was screened at various film festivals such as Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Chinese Documentary Festival. He won the Contemporary Perspective Award at the South Taiwan Film Festival. In the same year, he received the Award for Young Artist from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2015, he founded Ground Up Film Society with several independent filmmakers to organize the Student Film Festival. In recent years, he has been focusing on performing. His works include Fagara, No.1 Chung Ying Street, Pseudo Secular, A Dream of Red Mansions: The Long Goodbye and Suk Suk.

 

SO Chi Ho, aka SoHo, graduated from CAP TV and later worked in creation and performing at King Kong Crew like Hui Yin. Similarly, he co-founded Trial & Error with his friends in October 2020. With his diverse and complex performance, he has impressed people many times. His recent work《每天外你多一些:直至倒瀉》 (2021), in which he played an affectionate man, was critically acclaimed. Participated in the first Ground Up Student Film Festival, but sadly, he did not get any awards.

 

Pre-selection Panel

Dorothy CHEUNG is a filmmaker and artist currently based in Hong Kong. Her moving-image works have been selected for film festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam, Leeds International Film Festival, Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, and Taiwan International Documentary Festival. She embarked on the filmmaking journey through co-writing the screenplay of Pseudo Secular (2016). Her works include Letter to the Outsider and Home (2018), and a Distant Archive (2019). 

 

KWOK Zune, born in 1985, Hong Kong. He has worked as an independent film director since graduating from a local film school in 2009. His films are grounded in actualities and real characters. Kwok has received various awards in local and international competitions. Main works include A Day in a Life (2008), Homecoming (2009), Downstream (2012), Ten Years (feature film, 2015), and Night Is Young (2020).

 

CHAN Hau Chun graduated from the City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media. She is a cinematographer and independent filmmaker. Her works include Uncle Fai, 32+4, Call me Mrs Chan, and No Song to Sing. 32+4 was screened at numerous international film festivals, and Nominated for Golden Horse Award for Best Documentary.

Eligibility

  • All films must have been created by Hong Kong students studying in or who graduated from universities, secondary schools, or primary schools (including Hong Kong students abroad and international students in Hong Kong). The filmmaker must have been a student at the time of shooting.
  • Films must have been completed after 1 January, 2018.
  • Submission was open to films of all themes, genres, lengths, and formats.
  • Submission was open to films of all languages. Non-Cantonese film submissions required Chinese subtitles. All selected films required English and Chinese subtitles.
  • Filmmakers could submit more than one film. Entries were allowed from individuals or collaborators.
  • The filmmaker(s) had to be the sole and exclusive owner(s) of the copyright for the submitted film(s).

Awards

Voices of the Ground Award
To commend the unique voices that represent author’s consciousness and respond to the times

Two Families, Frank WU

Grand Prize
To commend the overall most outstanding work

Survival HK, Louise PAU

Outstanding Artistic Contribution
To commend the outstanding works in terms of genre, scriptwriting, performance, cinematography, editing, sound design, etc.

Student Jury Prize
The most resonant work, as selected by the Student Jury

Mummy, TSANG Chung Yin

Jurors’ Overviews

Through Films, We Ask Questions About Our Times from the Ground Up

It’s remarkable being a film festival juror for the first time. We have 20 shortlisted works in this year’s Ground Up Student Film Festival, and since we have to watch them all before deliberating, the organiser had blocked out an entire day for an eight-hour marathon screening. I thought that the intense marathon screening, like watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in one sitting, would be physically and mentally draining. Yet this year’s finalists are all unique and diverse in genres, film techniques, and themes; watching them in one go makes for a particularly interesting experience. 

In the panel meeting, the jurors took turns sharing their feelings and thoughts on the works. Prior to the meeting, I anticipated disagreement and debates, but the jurors’ comments were surprisingly similar, especially towards works that we agreed had stood out. Many finalists received special mentions. Looking back at the list, 13 out of 20 shortlisted works were praised by the jury panel.

A number of films this year drift in and out of reality and fiction. The jury panel commended films that intentionally blur the fine line between the real and unreal, true and fake; works that play with reality in fiction, and fiction in reality. Deriving from this narrative approach, we discussed whether the works have directly documented reality. Or are they simulating, or replicating, or meddling with reality? How do we make sense of the artificiality that the works sometimes exhibit? Does it interrupt the viewing experience and dampen the works’ emotional impact, or does it help us appreciate the work from a distance? In instances where directors consciously interfered with documentaries, or interjected real-life events into fictional work, this approach of incorporating reality and fiction sparked extensive discussions in the meeting.

We also questioned how we should understand and comment on works that focus less on narration, but more on presenting visual or sound art through the medium of film. How should such works invite the audience to enter their worlds? How should the directors effectively place themselves in their works under different guises? When talking about timely societal issues, how much should be left unsaid, or how detached should it be from reality, to leave space for the film to resonate with the audience? How should one take on the mix of comedy and documentary, and to what effect?

The jurors reached a consensus on the award-winning works fairly early on. The debate lay in determining which awards the works should receive. No matter which award the film takes home, they are all worthy of their accolades. We unanimously agree that the award-winning works not only show maturity in filming techniques, but most of them represent and echo the voices of our times. From the creators’ perspectives, the films actively observe this place at this particular time, and acutely question the current state of this place.

Award Juror Yeung Chun Yin (Uncle Salt)

The Scenery Within Draws Me to You

Compared with dramas and documentaries, animated and experimental works tend to be more obscure yet playful. In a world where red tape seems to be unavoidable, the fun lies in the cracks and crevices.

Shortlisted works such as Once Upon a Time in Tuen Mun, Weeping Man, Kin’s Hair, and The Cage reflect that many submissions this year address current circumstances with metaphors and fables. Whether the use of metaphors is effective depends on the connection between the imagery and its meaning. All shortlisted works are well-versed in technique, and when coupled with imagery, the films open up space for imagination. Kin’s Hair uses hair to figuratively illustrate anything precious yet fleeting; in Cassetrain, the tangled cassette tapes, railroads, and shadows all hint at something more. 

In terms of form, many experimental and animated works directly respond to the ways of reading and distinct aesthetics popular in the online world. Some even go further in trying to mix different genres. In the shortlisted ephwaipi, the filmmaker challenges and plays with tropes in visual culture, like how everything sounds better in French, or how all settings are layered with meaning.  Even the title itself is a humorous take on the pronunciation of “FYP” (final year project).

Living in a time when goodbyes are frequent and restrictions are everywhere, returning home and remembering are equally difficult. Animated and experimental films are versatile in their processing of memories and space. Building Blocks uses sound and visuals to recreate a grandpa’s old family home, while A Trip to There deconstructs home videos. Though the creators of Once Upon a Time in Tuen Mun and Survival HK were away from Hong Kong during the creative process, through symbols and shared experiences like minibuses and the English listening exam, they respond to the current state in Hong Kong from afar. The universal stories and sentiments of both works make it possible for audiences to be moved and to interpret the films, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.

The jolting visual styles, the treatment of time and space, the meta and intertextual ways of storytelling we see are nothing new in this day and age, where YouTube videos and social media take the reins. What makes experimentation in film difficult is that one has to review and observe the traditions of how animated and experimental films are usually made, then inject a fresh point of view through content and form. Technique is no doubt important, but what truly frustrates me is not the quality of the works, but how they don’t go far enough. When dealing with pressing matters, why don’t we push the stories, imagery, and forms to the extreme? Why do we keep falling back on what’s already been done?

Experimental films are all about smashing forms and boundaries, while animation opens up new, unknown realms with sound and visuals. What connects the two is a shared desire to go down the road not taken.

Organising a student film festival, at this time and in this place, takes the same courage and determination.

It’s never easy to crash the system and create something new. No matter what the ending will be, at least we’ve tried to do it.

Pre-selection Juror Dorothy Cheung

Unforgotten Gems

This article will mainly look at dramas and documentaries. Among nearly 270 student works, some are well executed and demonstrate the directors’ solid understanding of film structure and technique. Some may be flawed and not as polished in tone and mood, but they impress viewers with their intuition and raw energy. What we discussed most during the panel were the authors’ intentions, the directors’ attempts at and contemplations of visuals and narratives, and the criteria a student film festival should have.

Many submissions this year centre on coming-of-age experiences and school life. Some go overboard with their portrayals of emotions, resulting in works that feel forceful and unnatural. When transforming personal experiences into moving images, emotions lose their authenticity if the directors fail to translate the texture of everyday life onto the screen. When the mise-en-scene is reduced to merely serving as a background, it ceases to be a real, fluid space. 17 Years is one of the few works that manages to strike a delicate balance. The film’s texturally distinctive visual images, along with the actors’ relaxed and memorable performances, make it a poignant rumination on the detachment and suppressed passions of youth. Aside from films on growing up and family relationships, many submissions take a sharp look at the city’s complex societal problems. Melding documentary, fiction, and performance, Temporal (+) Boundary looks at the debates surrounding Hong Kong’s ongoing exodus through conversations among three women. 

Though rare, some submissions explore the aftermath and remains of the recent social movement. Before the Summer Snow imagines Hong Kong in the near future. Through the reunion of a family separated by the social movement, it reflects the collective anxiety of the present times. June and For All the Parts of Me turn to memories lingering in the streets to give voice to the city’s melancholy and despair.

The making of a documentary is sensitive to time when made in a rushed timeframe, like in an assignment or grad film, and the attitude and ways in which the filmmaker intervenes with reality lay down the foundation of the film. I’d like to specifically talk about two works that I’m fond of, Echoes of the Wave and The Last Breath. The former documents Hong Kong soccer team Kitchee’s journey to the AFC Champions League games, and captures the team’s and its fans’ hopes and regrets. Real and full of raging passion, the short tells us that failures are not to be feared; keep riding the waves, and we’ll get there someday. The latter hones in on Mabobo Communist Farm in Fanling and the farmer’s family. In the interviews and excerpts of daily life, we see glimmers of hope for a better society and the frustrations of being unable to change the status quo.

Documentaries tend to diverge from mainstream narratives – they are carriers of our memories, and a means of philosophical contemplation of reality. I hope to see more documentary submissions next year. I hope to see filmmakers stepping out of the restraints of schoolwork to keep filming and keep digging deeper, to create profound works with meanings and insight.

Though the aforementioned films did not make the final list, not being in the final round doesn’t mean that the films aren’t good enough.  Their true values are the filmmakers’ exploration and experimentation with visual aesthetics. In the suffocating times we live in, the space for dramas and documentaries is shrinking every day. Finding a new way out, new ways to look at films, new ways of filmmaking  – these are lessons that we all have to learn.

Pre-selection Juror & Award Juror Chan Hau Chun