Published: 17:46, May 17, 2024
Docudrama on Chinese educators stimulates patriotism
By Gaby Lin
Undersecretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Raistlin Lau Chun (fourth left), Associate Vice-President of Lingnan University Lau Chi-pang (fourth right), Vice-President of Shaoguan University of Tian Guangzeng (left), and other guests pose for photos ahead of a screening of the documentary “Life Goes On”, at Lingnan University, in Tuen Mun, May 17, 2024. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – Locally-produced documentary Life Goes On was screened for the first time in Hong Kong on Friday, offering a glimpse into the untold stories of educators’ struggle to preserve China’s war-torn education in the face of Japanese aggression eight decades ago.

“The film is touching and meaningful, presenting the public with a history of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression,” Raistlin Lau Chun, undersecretary for culture, sports and tourism, said at the screening at Lingnan University in Tuen Mun.

“The stories and spirit of teachers and students who underwent the warfare during that period will continue to spread and inspire generations and generations of Chinese people.”

Life Goes On is a docudrama which depicts scores of Chinese educational institutions, including National Sun Yat-sen University and Lingnan University, relocating to northern Guangdong between the 1930s and 1940s to continue operations and protect academic achievements from being wiped out by prolonged warfare.

We hoped that through the film, the stories of how education helped resist a national calamity could be told, and stimulate patriotic feelings among the young generations and inspire them to study hard for the country.

Tian Guangzeng, Vice-President of Shaoguan University

Lingnan University, which was re-established in Hong Kong in the 1960s, relocated three times during the war. Lau Chi-pang, the university’s associate vice-president, said though this history has been recorded in files, it has not been well-narrated.

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“Now with the film reenacting those historical scenes, we can continue to tell the story in the future,” he said.

Produced by Phoenix Movies Channel, the documentary was shot on-site at former school locations and historic landmarks in Guangdong province, as well as Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan region.

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Tian Guangzeng, vice-president of Shaoguan University, which co-produced the film, said the documentary explores the development process of school systems in these regions, demonstrating that educational accomplishment in these areas derives from the “same root”.

A poster of the documentary “Life Goes On”, at Lingnan University, in Tuen Mun, May 17, 2024. (GABY LIN / CHINA DAILY)

“We hoped that through the film, the stories of how education helped resist a national calamity could be told, and stimulate patriotic feelings among the young generations and inspire them to study hard for the country,” added Tian.

The 85-minute film mentions many dedicated educators, such as Macao-born historian Xian Yuqing, agronomist Ding Ying, and economist Wang Yanan – one of the first to translate Das Kapital into Chinese.

“I think this film is very meaningful as it talks about a lot of knowledge, stories, and people that are not mentioned in our textbooks. I have benefited a lot from it,” Liang San-yi, a student from Lingnan Dr. Chung Wing Kwong Memorial Secondary School, told China Daily after the screening.

Undersecretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Raistlin Lau Chun speaks ahead of a screening of the documentary “Life Goes On”, at Lingnan University, in Tuen Mun, May 17, 2024. (GABY LIN / CHINA DAILY)

Promoting Chinese culture

Asked about whether the HKSAR government would encourage the local movie industry to fill the vacancy of production related to the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and other Chinese historical topics, the city’s deputy culture chief said the government is considering launching a new scheme to finance productions on these subjects.

“We have been encouraging the film industry to explore a wider range of creative themes, including the promotion of Chinese culture and various historical topics such as the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression,” Lau told China Daily.

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The SAR government in March established the Chinese Culture Promotion Office in a bid to enhance residents' cultural confidence and national identity.

Lau said the office will make use of various approaches and continue to strive in the future to let the public and the international community learn more about the outstanding Chinese culture.

“The themes and forms of these programs and activities will be diversified, and technological elements may also be incorporated. It is hoped that they will help attract young people to pay more attention to traditional culture.”