HKIDF2020 - Jurors Notes for International Doc Competition

Ernest Chan, Jury of International Doc Competition

 

The expansion of the Hong Kong Chinese Documentary Festival to include international entries gave me the opportunity to judge films from all over the world for the first time. It was a pleasure for me to watch all these well-made films from around the globe, featuring meaningful topics and unique characters, but ranking them proved difficult, as all are outstanding but none is perfect. That being said, a few entries do stand out. For example, Around the Bed of a Dying Collaborator cleverly utilizes security camera footage to convey the precarious situation the protagonist finds himself in, where even erecting a tombstone after death may prove too risky. African Bride covers the passing of the protagonist, with the director obviously judging the heterosexual white man for his sense of self-importance, while the woman the old man considered his plaything actually had him all figured out long ago. Map of Latin American Dreams is a documentary that grew from a photo collection - an interesting concept. The so-called dreams are often mirages behind which lie the struggles of reality. Mother-Child is an intimate record chronicling a pregnancy and its termination, through which the restrictions and oppression faced by Latinas are examined. Hey! Teachers, named using lyrics of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, looks into the advanced indoctrination system in Russia, where once in a while a teacher here and there will put up resistance, only to find themselves hitting a brick wall. Formerly Youth Square is not a look back to the past, but a seething condemnation of present-day attacks by authority on the freedom of the press. Finally, Of Land and Bread is a record of the misdeeds committed by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. In this day and age where everyone has a video camera, the cameras in the hands of Palestinian civilians are more than just tools, they are weapons of self-defence.

 

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Ernest Chan is the current council member and former chairperson of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. He has served as a juror for the Golden Horse Awards and the ifva Awards. He edited the 2012 Hong Kong Film Retrospective and 2018 Hong Kong Cinema, and coedited In the Mood for Films25th Anniversary of Jet Tone FilmsEdward Yang, 10-year Commemoration and the Filmmaker in Focus book series including editions on Sylvia Chang, Brigitte Lin, Sammo Hung and Michael Hui.