HKIDF2020 - Jurors Notes for Chinese Doc Competition

Joseph Wu, Jury of Chinese Doc Competition


I look at my watch. It is 8:47am, I still have plenty of time to drop off my wife at her office. Yet, traffic is always hectic in the morning and never lets you slow down for even a second. I listen to my wife talking about her holiday arrangements this year while keeping an eye on the traffic light. The moment it turns yellow, all the drivers step on the gas in unison, and that is when I see a small kitten underneath the car in front of us. I hit the brake, but it may be too late, my car has already moved past the kitten. I do not hear anything, and when I check the rear-view mirror, I do not see anything behind us either…


Imagine this is the first scene of a movie. What stokes our curiosity? From a plot perspective, it may be the kitten. Yet, once we transform text into images, “my wife” and “I” can also give rise to a lot of questions. The text specifically refers to the woman in my car as “my wife,” yet when all we see are images, she can be my girlfriend, my wife, my mistress, or, in fact, anyone. One may also wonder if this is typical of our morning routine, what we do for a living, or whose story we are watching.


This kind of suspense is essential to films. Apart from a caption that reads “My Wife,” there are many ways to convey her identity to the audience, depending on the kind of story we are telling. As day-to-day life has become more dramatic this year, the same goes for the films featured by the festival. In this era of big data and macro-analysis, we also need films that bring out the fine details of truth. Reason may not be able to change people, but it can change the story. Do we all see the kitten lurking around in these films? And how is that relevant to us?



Joseph Wu is a co-founder of ballab. He is involved in screenwriting, commercials production and visual education. He has a degree in Film Art from the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. His films are mostly about Hong Kong’s minorities and were screened in various film festivals. Selected Filmography: 5 MinutesThe Waterside and Shabnumthe Dew.