Acceptance Speech - Ruby Yang
Director and Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities,
The University of Hong Kong
Best Documentary Award
When L plus H Creations Foundation decided to put on a musical, I proposed that they train a group of high school students, who, through their own youthful perspectives, would film the whole process.
Several months later, I went to one of the rehearsals. I was deeply touched by Tsz Nok, a student who had recently lost his vision, holding his Braille score whilst singing boldly with strength and immense effort. I found it deeply affecting.
Seeing the hidden vitality of each of the students training for the musical, I decided to make a film to document the transformation of the students after 6 months of rigorous training, despite being excluded due to elitism and labeled as undisciplined and lazy by society.
My Voice, My Life proves that it's not wise to determine a youth's future by examination results, which schools they attended , or by career choices. The students in my film all have potential. All they need is guidance and someone who believes in them, someone to tell them, "They can do it." I strongly believe, once given a stage, young people will shine under the spotlight, and live their lives with confidence and hope.
THE WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL FILM & TELEVISION SHOWCASE
JULY 2nd 2016
Passion & Integrity Commerce & Creativity Equality Not Hierarchy
Ruby Yang - Hong Kong
The Documentary Award - My Voice, My Life
Director - Editor - Producer
Ruby Yang is the recipient of TheWIFTS Documentary Award 2016 for My Voice, My Life. Directed by Yang, the film follows economically and socially challenged teenagers over six months as they bond together to make a musical. The different family and socioeconomic structures of their backgrounds take their toll, as they struggle and then overcome the obstacles that then bind them as a triumphant team.
Ruby Yang is a Chinese American filmmaker, she was born in Hong Kong, moved to San Francisco in 1977 and relocated to Beijing in 2004. Her work in documentary and dramatic film has earned her an Academy Award®, two Academy nominations, and numerous other international awards. She directed The Blood of Yingzhou District, which won an Oscar in 2007.
The Warriors of Qiugang, which received an Academy nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2011, is the story of Zhang Gongli a farmer who grew up in the village of Qiugang, in Anhui Province; his house and fields lie near the banks of the Huai River. In 2004, private chemical companies took over an old state-owned enterprise that had long produced pesticides and dyes in Qiugang. As production ramped up, black waters disgorged from the plants and flooded the fields of Qiugang. Fish died, crops failed, and villagers grew alarmed by the large numbers of their own succumbing to cancer.
When his own fields could no longer be farmed, Zhang filed a lawsuit against the factory that adjoins his land. He lost. This marked the beginning of a stubborn and often dangerous campaign that spanned five years. The film follows Zhang and his allies in the village as they draw up a petition to bring to Beijing, recruit support from the local media, reach out for help from a local NGO, and in time, make contact with environmental activists from across China. From clandestine trips to the nation's capital to private negotiating sessions with factory representatives, the footage reveals a rare portrait of grassroots activism in contemporary China. Far from a simple black-and-white portrait, the film tracks the villagers as they seek out the help and power of the national government to curb local businesses and local officials. The film's intimacy leads us past the headlines and clichés about modern China to offer a memorable portrait of villagers wrestling with, and transformed by, China's headlong rush into modernity.
Her latest documentary, My Voice, My Life, follows an unlikely group of misfit high school students from Hong Kong cast together for a musical theater performance. From low self-esteem to blindness, each student confronts unique personal challenges in the process of developing his or her character. My Voice, My Life was named one of Hong Kong's 5 Most Essential Films of 2014 by The Wall Street Journal, and won the 2015 NPT Human Spirit Award at the Nashville Film Festival. Her other work includes Citizen Hong Kong, China 21, A Moment in Time, Julia's Story, and Tongzhi in Love.
Yang co-founded the Chang Ai Media Project in 2003. The organization's documentaries and public service announcements promoting AIDS awareness have been seen millions of times in China. She is a Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities at The University of Hong Kong, and now heads the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, which aims to nurture and mentor the next generation of documentary filmmakers in Hong Kong. In 2015, Yang was conferred the Honorary Fellowship by the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts for her outstanding achievement in filmmaking.
2016 In Search of Perfect Consonance (Documentary short); 2014 My Voice, My Life (Documentary); 2010 The Warriors of Qiugang (Documentary short); 2010 A Moment in Time (Documentary); 2008 Tongzhi in Love (Documentary short); 2006 The Blood of Yingzhou District (Documentary short); 2005 Julia's Story (TV Movie documentary); 2002 China 21 (Documentary); 2001 A Journey to Silicon Valley (Video documentary); 1999 Citizen Hong Kong.
The Warriors of Qiugang, text Courtesy of - warriorsofqiugang.com.