Celebrating a new generation of filmmakers

11 Nov 2022


Young film talents from around the world who contributed to HKBU’s Global University Film Awards (GUFA) 2022 have demonstrated the power of film to connect people and shape experiences. Widely known as the “University Oscars”, GUFA this year attracted more than 2,300 entries from about 100 countries and regions, and all of them share one common goal: to tell stories.

Turning personal experiences into stories

Among these passionate young filmmakers is Calvin Kwan, a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media programme at the Academy of Film (AF) of HKBU. He won the Special Mention of Narrative award at GUFA with his short film When Summer Ends. This tells the story about the friendship between two children as they face the challenges of growing up in an emotionally suppressive community.

The film’s creative inspiration sprang from Calvin’s own childhood experience. “When I was a kid, I loved hanging out with my friends at an arcade of the urban village in my hometown. As time went on, the city has changed, and both the arcade and the urban village were demolished,” he says. “I developed this film based on a question: what if two best friends miss the chance to see each other one last time due to a misunderstanding and the changes in society?”

The visually pleasing film has a retro feel while it conveys the themes of regret and the loss of childhood innocence. Calvin says, “I wanted to express a sense of melancholy through this film. I hope it can strike a chord with the audience and bring them an emotional experience.”

Inducing emotions through film

Evoking emotions in the viewers is what many filmmakers strive to achieve, and Dong Sichi, who is also a graduate of AF, is no exception. His film Intimate Distance incorporates unique aesthetics which not only gives visual delight to the audience but also elicits their emotions as it explores the power dynamics in relationships.

The 30-minute film follows the story of a private investigator who is tasked with catching a woman for cheating on her partner and yet can’t find any information that confirms her infidelity. Sichi says, “I hope the audience can feel the dramatic tension between the characters, as well as how I controlled the flow and pacing of the film. If the audience also appreciate the beauty expressed in the film, it will make me very pleased.”

The film was recognised by being the HKBU Academy of Film’s Choice at GUFA. Sichi is particularly grateful for the support he received from his teachers and he appreciates the experience of studying at the University. “The Academy provides you the time and space to grow, which I think is very important. I’ve also got to know other students who are passionate about filmmaking. Although it’s exhausting to pull all-nighters for school projects, our shared passion and inspiration have kept us going,” he says.

Passionate about filmmaking

For Calvin, studying the Master of Fine Arts programme has been an eye-opening experience. “The three years of training I received at HKBU enabled me to hone my skills in filmmaking, and the guidance from my teachers helped me to learn to be more observant of the external environment and tune into my inner world,” he says.

Driven by his passion for filmmaking, Calvin has continued to develop his creativity and filming techniques throughout the pandemic. “When the pandemic hit, my classmates and I started practising at each other’s homes regularly. Even though we didn’t have a film set and professional equipment at hand, we used our mobile phones to shoot and continue practising our filming skills,” he says.

A good film has to connect with the audience, and the magic of cinema has brought together young filmmakers like Calvin and Sichi who share the same yearning to tell stories through films. GUFA, by celebrating the excellence of film productions by university students across the globe, shines a spotlight on the great potential of talented young people to shape the future of film.