Film Review @ CAAMFest 2015 by YNOT at the Movies

My Voice, My Life (爭氣 | Hong Kong 2014 | in Cantonese | 91 min. | Documentary)

At last year’s CAAMFest, Wu Hao’s documentary “The Road to Fame” (成名之路 2013) tells a story about a group of talented students from a prestige drama university in China through the casting process of making a musical. This year, Academy Award-winning documentarian Ruby Yang (楊紫燁) brings her new film “My Voice, My Life” to the festival. Although this is also a film about the “making-of-a-musical,” but her subjects can’t be any more different—they are underprivileged or disabled students from four Hong Kong high schools.

The film focuses on a few students including a handsome and rebellious Jason Chow who often causes trouble, a shy but optimistic Tsz Nok Lin who became blind last year, an academically challenged Ho Yin “Fat Yin” Hui who learns to communicate with his parents, and a talented Coby Wong who struggles with her self-confidence.

These kids work hard under the direction and support of dedicated educators to make the musical a tremendous success. Along the process, they come of age and transform themselves and others around them.
Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.12.27 pm

The director Ruby Yang is well known for discovering touching stories that reflect the social and economic reality in China which often escape the radar of mass media reporting. Her short film “The Blood of Yingzhou District” (颍州的孩子 2006) won her an Oscar for exposing the devastation of AIDS orphanages in a poor village in Anhui, China.

This new film is no exception. The voices of these underprivileged teenagers are often buried by the noise of the fast-moving metropolitan life in Hong Kong. The film takes an up-and-close look at these youth and gives them a voice to express themselves, to bring awareness, to ignite hope, and to inspire the audience. It’s impossible not to be moved by what these kids were experiencing in the film. When the soft-spoken Tsz Nok gives a heartfelt speech at the end of the musical to tell his mom that he is going to be alright even he becomes blind, there won’t be any dry eye in the audience.

You might not remember what the musical is called (“The Awakening 震動心弦” according to the press material) and what the musical is about (I did recognize a tune from the musical “Les Misérables”, but it’s not). However, it’s the process of making the musical so meaningful for these teenagers and for the audience—thanks to this documentary in bringing the remarkable story to light.

YNOT at the Movies: CAAMFest 2015  March 6, 2015

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