Looking China Screening
SMART Co-Lab ‘Looking China’ On Campus Screening
Adding to ACM Mānoa’s long-standing SMART Exchange with Shanghai University and Shanghai International Film Festival, this summer ACM students had a new opportunity for immersion in filmmaking and Chinese cultural exchange through Looking China, a 3-week intensive documentary production program that draws students from around the world to make 10-minute documentaries on topics revolving around each year’s unique theme. While the program is co-hosted by universities in cities all over China, three ACM students were fortunate enough to be part of a group of ten students from Australia, New Zealand, and France that participated through Looking China’s home institution Beijing Normal University.
This year’s theme of “Craftsmanship, Inheritance, and Innovation” provided a number of interesting topics for participants to choose from, ranging from a pair of unconventional photographers who shoot their clients in 1930s clothing and settings, to a woman who has carried on her deceased husband’s rare art of making miniature monkeys from locust shells, to one of China’s most famous stage actors in the twilight of his life. Austin Lau, who just graduated from ACM this past May, chose a topic about Tongrentang, China’s most famous pharmaceutical company with a 400-year history. He was given unique access to company officials and workers, and chose to focus his story on a wider examination of Chinese medicine and this company’s role in shaping it. ACM Senior Casey Lapidus chose to examine Rongbaozhai, a collection of workshops in old Beijing devoted to the restoration of many of China’s most valuable ancient relics. ACM Senior John Gilmore also focused on a restoration topic, but one that centered on a team of textile archaeologists that restores some of the most intricate ancient fabrics found throughout China.
The extremely intense program allotted a mere five days of shooting and five days of editing, but all of the students managed to complete their films with the help of their Chinese student partners, volunteer students at the host university who not only served as full-time translators for the foreign students, but also produced the films. Many students formed tight bonds with both their Chinese cohorts and their fellow foreigners, the long hours and late nights instilling a strong sense of camaraderie in the diverse group of young filmmakers. The Beijing group was supervised by ACM Media Center Director Jay Hubert, who after receiving his MA in Asian Studies from UH Mānoa in 2006 went on to work in the Chinese film industry for seven years.
This new SMART co-Lab was made possible through ACM’s recent induction into the CILECT organization, a film consortium made up of top film schools from around the world. ACM’s inclusion in this elite group has opened up the doors to a number of new opportunities similar to Looking China, and ACM looks forward to continue expanding its offerings and global reach through CILECT. After a very successful first outing with Looking China, ACM looks forward to sending more students each year to participate in the all-expenses paid program.