HKIDF2020 - Jurors Notes for International Doc Competition

Sarah Chau, Jury of International Doc Competition

 

I have worked in two of the three professions most often assaulted by those in power, media and education, and I am not optimistic at all about where things are going in Hong Kong. This year’s international competition features 12 finalists picked from over a thousand entries, and the two films rated most highly by jurors both feature protagonists from these two fields. Unfortunate for them, their professions have been torn to shreds in their countries. The Iranian reporter in Formerly Youth Square was forced to put down her pen and pick up her camera to defend journalism, using images rather than words, and soon she and her persecuted colleagues became her own interview subjects.

Hey! Teachers shows us how the warrior spirit is created in Russia. Students are taught nationalism during class, and rifle assembly afterwards. The new teachers believe education is more than vocational training and decides to wake their students up... their story reminds me of how I used to tell myself, when I was working as a teacher, not to let my students be devoured by the system.

Help is on the WayAfrican Bride and Mother-Child tell the stories of three women in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and raise the question: are women still the “lesser sex” today when it comes to things like work and reproductive rights?

I want to thank Visible Record for the opportunity to go on this “docovacation” in the midst of a pandemic, the documentarians for listening, discovering and bringing attention to often-ignored individuals and issues, and the subjects of these films for sharing their joy and tears with us.

If, and when, the arts come under assault at some point in the future, let us all take a moment to remember the diverse Hong Kong International Documentary Festival and the freedom of speech enjoyed by her jurors during meetings.

 

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Sarah Chau is a senior media professional.