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Children’s Film Festival

March, 2007
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YCIS-filmteam To most students like Song Ai Vee Song, video making is just “fun and funny”, or “the bloopers are great to watch.”

  Thinking of the Beijing Schools Film Festival which she and her schoolmates just entered, the year five student at the Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS) said: “We are a little nervous, and at the same time excited.”

  The small film team of seven students submitted three movies to enter the student section of the film festival. Their first entry is a film called “The Missing Snowman”, made last December for the school’s Christmas concert. The second film is a real student production, telling a story about a family: Because the parents are always quarrelling, their two daughters run away. When the parents find them back, the whole family becomes closer to each other. The third movie is about being flexible, a bilingual movie showing how students could be flexible in their school life.

  According to Mr. Sam Bateman, the teacher running the film team at YCIS, video making is a brand new subject as part of performing arts in the primary school, just for year 5 and 6. The first video class started last November, and the Missing Snowman was their first movie ever made by the team. The whole team would meet Mr. Bateman once a week on Friday afternoons for an hour and a half, when they learn different techniques of using the camera and lighting, editing and practice.

  “The students outside the film team can borrow the video cameras from the school,” said Sam. “And there are quite a few teachers with video making knowledge who can help the students.”

  As there are many students applying for the subject, Sam had to choose whom to be in the film team this year.

  Similar to YCIS, the other participating international schools have either video clubs or offer film studies at school. Last year, the film studies course was opened at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) to Grade 12 students as part of their IB program, and now it is for Grade 11 and 12. The course is about film appreciation and production. The school also provides very good resources for video/ film-making, such as 40 digital video cameras as well as G-5 Apple computers to do the film editing.

  “The technology for students is at such a level that they can make their own videos alone,” said Greg Macisaac, the organizer of the film festival. “It is only a matter of time before the other schools also have film studies.”

  Greg also runs the film club at WAB since he joined the school 12 years ago. As an after-school activity, the club hosts about 20 students with programs on video productions there, shooting, editing, each session for six weeks.

  In fact, the inspiration of hosting such a film festival was born in this film club, Greg disclosed.

  “There were three migrant school students once in my film club for six weeks, and I taught them how to use video cameras, how to shoot and edit films,” he recalled. “They made a little video called ‘My School’, which shows that even if it is a school without any resources, the spirit of the people at the school is so good that everyone love the school and are making it a better place. They were so proud of it…”

  “And I think there are many stories out there in schools that students can tell.”

  Greg himself is a firm believer that if the students have the tools they would do it well. He hopes BSFF can provide a showcase for young film-makers at the elementary, middle and high school levels of the Beijing school community.

  According to him, students and staff from altogether 150 Chinese schools and 10 international schools are invited to produce their own short films and enter the four categories: animation, general entertainment, documentary, as well as the one-minute short movies. There are two age groups: 14 years and under, then 15 years to 18 years old. 6-minute video with credits is required on the entries that could be either in English or Chinese. There will be one winner from each category judged by a panel of film industry professionals.Chinese poster

  It all culminates on April 20 at WAB in an outdoor picnic atmosphere, with entertainment, workshops, and the public viewing some of the  honorably mentioned films. If you submit a film, you can join in the workshops on animation, editing, post-production, acting, directing, script writing, etc. The workshops are run by well-noted Chinese actress, directors as well as professionals from big companies such as Warner Brothers, 3MG, Apple, and Sony. Some of Beijing’s most notable TV and Film personalities, as well as a host of other celebrities will be on-hand to participate in the event.

  There is no entry to go to the film festival, neither entry fee to submit a film. But, there will be a suggested donation at the door. The money raised through donations, and by BSFF sponsors will go to support a migrant school, a school for the disabled and a school for minorities. The organizer expects that each of the three schools will receive a video package, a new camera, tripod, microphone and laptop computer this year.

  “Every year, BSFF will support three different schools of these types,” he said.

  Next year, with the ACAMIS (Association of China and Mongolia International Schools) schools participating, the film festival will go nationwide in a sense.

  “There is indeed a lot of potential for the film festival, but let’s see how the students are doing their movies.”

  For more information on the Beijing Schools Film Festival, please log on to www.beijingschoolsfilmfestival.org.

  Box info: LittleStar Magazine has got permission from Greg to post the winning films on its website: www.theschools.ws


By Xing Yangjian

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