Student films inspired by cultural exchange to be screened at international conference

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Anna S Womack, (808) 956-6052
Admin Coord, College of Arts and Humanities
Jay Hubert, (808) 956-3782
Media Center Director, ACM
Posted: Sep 25, 2017

Students in the Looking China program. Austin Lau, John Gilmore, and Casey Lapidus, center
Students in the Looking China program. Austin Lau, John Gilmore, and Casey Lapidus, center

Over the summer, Austin Lau, Casey Lapidus and John Gilmore from the Academy for Creative Media (ACM) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa experienced a new opportunity for immersion in filmmaking and Chinese cultural exchange. Looking China, a 3-week intensive documentary production program, draws students from around the world to make 10-minute documentaries on topics revolving around a new theme each year. This year’s theme was “Craftsmanship, Inheritance and Innovation.”

The ACM students’ films will be screened at a conference on Wednesday, September 27, 7 to–8:30 p.m., in Moore Hall’s Tokioka Room (room 319). A behind-the-scenes documentary made during the summer program will also be shown. At the end of the screening there will be a Q&A. The organizers of Looking China will be visiting UH Mānoa for a small conference in conjunction with the Confucius Institute and the East-West Center.

Looking China adds to ACM’s long-standing program SMART Exchange with Shanghai University and Shanghai International Film Festival. While the program is co-hosted by universities in cities all over China, the ACM students were fortunate to be part of a group of 10 students from Australia, New Zealand and France that participated through Looking China’s home institution, Beijing Normal University.

Lau, who graduated from ACM in May, chose Tongrentang, China’s most famous pharmaceutical company with a 400-year history. He was given unique access to company officials and workers, and focused his story on a wider examination of Chinese medicine and the company’s role in shaping it. 

Lapidus, an ACM senior, chose Rongbaozhai, a collection of workshops in old Beijing devoted to the restoration of many of China’s most valuable ancient relics. 

Gilmore, a senior, focused on a restoration topic centered on a team of textile archaeologists that restores some of the most intricate ancient fabrics found throughout China. 

The extremely intensive program allotted five days of shooting and five days of editing. All 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, but who also produced the films. Many students formed tight bonds with their Chinese cohorts and their fellow foreigners through the long hours and late nights. The Beijing group was supervised by ACM Media Center Director Jay Hubert, a UH Mānoa alumnus who worked in the Chinese film industry for seven years.

This new SMART co-Lab was made possible through ACM’s induction into the CILECT organization, a film consortium made up of top film schools from around the world. 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.