HKIDF2020 - Jurors Notes for International Doc Competition

Cheng Chuen Wai, Jury of International Doc Competition


In Gevar’s Land, someone said: “I never thought I’d move to France”; still having the option to choose where one wants to live is a luxury for those who have been uprooted from their homes. Perhaps it is a sign of how turbulent the world is today, because many entries in the Documentary Festival this year share a common theme about leaving one’s homeland. For those living in the Middle East, they may be leaving because of war or forced to go into exile due to an oppressive political regime. In Latin America, people may be heading to the United States for a variety of reasons. Through these films, you gain valuable insight into the pressing issues and the ideals and dreams people are pursuing all over the world. In deciding which ones make it to the big screen, we need to consider not just their choice of topics but their technical execution as well.

This year’s newly introduced International Doc Competition is a challenge for us as judges. From the days when the number of entries submitted to the Chinese Documentary Festival was a 3-digit number, we have come a long way with the number of entries hitting a 4-digit figure for this year’s International Documentary Festival. The challenge as judges is to select the best works out of the thousands of entries and to make sure we did not miss anything out. The saying “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” holds true for all kinds of art appreciation but is especially apt for documentaries. Perhaps this learning the world is far from what we hope it to be, is one of the joys of watching documentaries.



Cheng Chuen Wai is a veteran film critic.