Emerging Film Industry in Cambodia

Cambodia film industry is getting ready to kick and punch into the international spotlight with their first action movie, Jailbreak. Interview with Loy Te, Head of Production of Kongchak Pictures, Cambodia and Zayar Tint Shwe from StereoImage Studios, Singapore.

This is a field trip assignment at Hong Kong Filmart 2017, for Broadcast Journalism of MAIJS program of Hong Kong Baptist University.


Living slow in a fast-paced city

A group of people stepped into the woods consciously, every footstep were synchronized with a soft but firm rhythm. Everyone keep their pace at a constant speed, no one was in hurry. Along the path, only the sound of the wind in the trees and rustling of dry autumn leaves could be heard. Most of them shed layers of clothing to keep themselves warm in the crisp weather. The cold breeze was mixed with heavy breathing, which came from the members as they climbed up the hiking trail, which was rather steep and uneven.

They weren’t hiking but were practicing walking meditation, a form of meditation in action. Watching from afar, it was a line of people walking with freedom and solidity, trying to keep their awareness involved with the experience of walking. The meditation activity, which known as the “Days of Mindfulness” was organized by Plum Village Hong Kong, the Mindfulness Practice Center located in Ngong Ping.

“I’m here to relax. I am an engineer who works five days a week and alternately on Saturday. Sometimes, even though I’m on holiday, but in fact, I couldn’t really have a good rest as my mind is still with the unfinished work,” said Chan, one of the meditators who have travelled from Tuen Mun, catching the early 8:40 a.m. bus from Tung Chung to Plum Village.

Meditators of “Days of Mindfulness” were mostly local with few foreigners, either joined as an individual or as a family. Some of them were regular while the rest were the first-timer, like Chan. In the full day of practicing mindfulness, the meditators kept their phone in a locker to disconnect from the hectic and loud part of the city, immerse in peace and tranquility, at least for seven hours.

Throughout the day, the meditators were being introduced to several practices, for example, sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, relaxation, smiling and breathing. During the break, some of them laid out straw mats on the verdant fields and threw themselves under the warm sunlight, with arms spread out freely and gently closed their eyes, listening to the birds chirping in the park.

"Day of Mindfulness" in Plum Village
“Day of Mindfulness” in Plum Village Hong Kong (by author)

Adapting mindfulness practice in city life

“Emotional pain hurts more than physical pain and indeed more difficult to handle,” said Tsultrim Sangye, she nodded her head slowly and raised her eyebrows. She is a Buddhist nun and at the same time working as a personal assistant in a trading company.

Sangye was in her velvet monastic robes, the edge of her robes was bedewed but her face was calm and tranquil, despite the howling wind bursts of heavy rain outside. “I was a workaholic, I’m easily getting nervous and stressed up, not saying that I’ve changed completely, but now I’m learning how to slow down my life, and it’s getting better,” she spoke firmly after a sip of Pu-erh tea.

Sangye described her first meditation experience as “life-changing”. She joined a ten-day meditation retreat course which organized by Vipassana Meditation Center Hong Kong, and it was when her meditation journey began.

In the retreat, her day began at 4:00a.m. with a wake-up bell and continues until 9:00 p.m. Each day about ten hours of meditation, interspersed with regular breaks and rest periods.

“The meditation was physically challenged, throughout the course, each day about ten to eleven hours, we did nothing but sitting, back pain and hurt in my knees were killing me and I can hardly sleep every day,” Sangye touched her lower back as she recalled her first meditation retreat. “I can deal with it because I knew deep down I can live with it, the physical pain hurts only temporarily,” her eyes sparkled.

Stressful life in fast-moving city

Taking off the monastic robes, Sangye is like ordinary Hong Kong people; she has to travel from her home on off-island to Wan Chai every day to work, in order to support her living expenses.

“I would rather stay at home during the weekend, I don’t like the crowd,” Sangye rolled her eyes and slightly turned her head to left and right to relax her neck and shoulder. “Hong Kong people are busy, always in rush, and tense up, I wonder why can’t we slow down?”

“Dot-dot-dot”, the door of the train would close after few seconds of the sounds, the passenger should stop when they heard the sound, however, it is common to see someone runs at their top speed and jumps into the train, nearly got clamped by the door.

Hong Kong MTR is a metaphor for fast-paced lifestyle of the citizens. Living under such circumstances, Hong Kong people tend to be mentally and physically overstressed. According to Hospital Authority of Hong Kong, four percent of the Hong Kong population (over 0.02 million people) were affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a kind of emotion disorder which caused by the mood disorder.

The finding also identified that many GAD sufferers are aware of their physical symptoms but unaware of the symptoms are caused by mood disorder, in short, lack of self-awareness.

Meditation is one way to cultivate mindfulness and is seen as an effective way for stress reduction. A study by Mood Disorders Centre of the University of Exeter shows that a mindful person tends to be less negative emotion and anxiety, as mindfulness meditation alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of both thought and feeling.

Hong Kong MTR is a metaphor for fast-paced lifestyle of the citizen.                       Chung, H. (Photographer). (Dec.12, 2016). MTR Admiralty Station lower platform [digital image].                                           Retrieved from https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MTR_ADM_(4).JPG

Mindfulness practice is an ongoing effort

Plum Village Hong Kong is a mindfulness community practice centers established by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Monastic Sangha.

On Nov.12, 2016, the center and Wake Up Hong Kong, a young meditation practitioners community organized flash mob meditation in downtown Hong Kong, to bring mindfulness meditation to the city and in a more creative way.

Brother Phap Chwng is a Vietnamese monk who in charge of Wake Up Hong Kong, he is concerned about the condition of the city’s psychological wellbeing. “I think meditation really need for Hong Kong people, because with mindfulness, you can slow down, and be aware of what you are doing. So, you can observe what happened, and you can release the tension,” he said firmly.

With the right method, meditation can be carried out in anytime and anywhere. However, most of the people are not aware of their inner consciousness, and often end up struggled with negative emotions and take meditation as a way to ease their emotional pain.

“Everyone likes to be like that, if you are happy, then have no time (for practice). But when you have a really serious problem, then you remember, how to find some places to resolve the problem,” Chwng lips were sealed whilst his mouth was slightly downturned.

Sangye has the same thought on this phenomenon and supposed that meditation should be an ongoing effort to raise mindfulness. “Meditation isn’t about a perfect timing or venue, if you want to practice, anytime is a good time,” she smiled.

This is a feature writing assignment for MAIJS Program, Hong Kong Baptist University 

Young soul’s desire to cherish surprises in life

photo credited to Kitty Wong

“I had a big hit on myself, and then eventually, hurt myself physically. I got anxiety, shaking hands, and sweating, I need to take pills, and it lasted for two to three months.”

Kitty Wong Ka Yin began to lower her voice, spoke in a very calm and soft tone, she seemed unflustered when she talked about her experience of anxiety, as if it didn’t leave any footprints on her life.

She was the managing director of a worldwide advertising company, OgilvyOne Worldwide in Hong Kong and served in the group for 14 years starting in 1999.

She described her career in OgilvyOne as thrilling and had given her an opportunity to learn another discipline of communication and marketing, “It was a whole new experience to me on how to manage the customer, we are not just selling a creative solution, we were selling a marketing strategy, it was something more depth,” she said as her smile reached her eyes.

However, at her final years in the organization, she found herself drowning in the extremely unfavorable market conditions. As part of the management team, she had to make sure the company not only run well in financial performance, a model in its operation but also gaining awards and leadership recognition.

“The market was so bad at that time, I started to have a very tight fight of achieving the target, I was a good performer for many years, never losing my target,” Wong said.

She was overwhelmed, but she couldn’t do anything with the dilemma. “I can’t do it anymore, it so difficult…I can no longer achieve my target, it was very sad.”

Much earlier, in 2009, by the time she was offered a promotion to take the role as managing director, she had signed up a part-time distant learning MBA course with Warwick University, England.

She knew job promotion wasn’t purely good news to her when she decided to commit herself to graduate school. “I was crying because I have such a good life by that time,” she said, laughing.

However, she decided to accept the offer when her bosses told her, “If you don’t take it, somebody will sit on top of you.”

Her eyes were opened wide and her eyebrows were raised, “Why I want somebody to sit on top of me? I want myself to sit there,” she tapped the table lightly with her index finger.

Reaching 50 in few months, Wong sees herself as extrovert, intrusive, and perceptive, “I call myself a monkey,” she raised and waved her arms in the air mimicking a monkey.

Wong is simple and clean; her short haircuts aligns perfectly to her white floral print blouse and sleek black slacks, the black thick frame glasses gave her a playful sense of humor, but looking sophisticated.

She is currently working as the Head of Marketing and Communications of Tai Kwun, the centre for heritage and art which is a not-for-profit operator set up by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

She dived into the field of art and culture, something which she has never accessed. “This job gives me a very exciting kind of new learning…” Covering her mouth, her cheeks were flushed with excitement.

She keeps herself young in spirit and energetic, “She is an innovative source of inspiration for creative ideas,” Cheung said, who works with Wong in Tai Kwun.

“Even though she is the Head but she won’t stop us from expressing our idea, I think she is an open minded person, and also energetic, we often hang out together for movie and jogging,” Cheung said.

Wong has become friend with some of her clients. Lilian Chong, the Senior Vice President of Marketing of Hong Kong Telecommunication Payment Ltd. was client of Wong and has known her for more than 10 years.

As impressed as she is with Wong’s confidence and determination, she says Wong has never over sold an idea, instead listened well to client’s comments and worked it out with other agency fellows to deliver the best result.

Wong is married and has two children. As a career woman, a mother and a wife, she strives to identify her role to play in these characters. “As a career woman, I’m going into another career, I try to love myself more, to do something for myself, which is learning the blog, and create a platform for the woman, putting art to inspire people.”

She spoke firmly on her future career planning but took a little while to puzzle her role as a mother and a wife. “I’m learning how to be a mother for my kids who turned into a teenager as they started to keep distant from me, I don’t know how to handle but I think I’m learning.

“I knew my man at 24, our relationship is not just a straight path, it was once the word ‘divorce’ came out, but it has now come into a very good path,” she spoke slowly as her emotion was at the tip of her throat.

“I don’t know how to describe all the role, but it all has a path to go, if you enjoy it and give a smile, it may get through in a better way,” her eyes sparkled.

This is a profile writing assignment for MAIJS Program, Hong Kong Baptist University

Pulitzer Prize winners speak on bearing witness at HKBU journalism workshop

Seven Pulitzer Prize winners shared their experiences on journalism journey with the students and public in the 7th Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop yesterday at Hong Kong Baptist University.

The seven winners participated in a public forum on “Bearing witness: The reporting of human triumphs and failing”, expressed their thoughts on the role of a journalist in seeking the truth and create changes to the community by addressing injustice.

The idea of “great story can be found in your own backyard” has been raised by Robin McDowell and Esther Htusan, the reporters from The Associated Press who won the 2016 Public Service category.

“I worked as a journalist to make a difference in my country,” said Esther, who pursues stories about human rights abuses in her home country, Myanmar. In the winning investigative news, she helped interviewed Burmese man who was tricked into working on a fishing boat on a remote island in Indonesia by traffickers.

Investigation of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants which carried out by Robin and Esther, together with their two teammates has freed 2,000 slaves from the fishing company, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reforms in the industry.

“Connecting with your subject, get in their life, I’m not a believer in citizen journalist,” said Professor William Snyder, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and editor. He stressed the importance for journalists towards professionalism, sharing his photojournalism experiences in capturing photos of ill and orphaned children who lived in desperate conditions in Romania.

The forum discussed the issues of journalist’s personal safety and preparations. George Rodrigue, the editor of The Plain Dealer said that journalist should learn how to work with the local and safety should always come first, “smart thing is to leave,” he said.

In the discussion of how journalist makes difference to a community, Susan Snyder and Kristen Graham, who  focused on the coverage of education and investigative reports, also the winning team member of 2012 Public Service category, shared their stories on covering the violence in the Philadelphia School District, “Assault on Learning”.

Kristen shared her experience in covering the story about a 10 years old girl who was assaulted by her classmates, she believes that journalist could give voice to the voiceless, “I think it’s important to have that humanity,” she said.

Ben C. Solomon, a video journalist and filmmaker and the 2015 International Reporting winning team member, who covered stories on Ebola outbreak in Africa, shared his passionate towards journalism, “I was young and stupid, and probably still am a bit, to my advantage that helps out a lot when jumping into stupid, dangerous things” he said.

The Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop was organized and hosted by the School of Communication of HKBU every two years. An opening ceremony for the workshop was officiated by Mr. Leung Ka-wing, Director of Broadcasting and Professor Franklin Luk, Vice-President (Academic) of HKBU.

The forum was facilitated by Mr. C.K.Lau, Associate Dean of School of Communication of HKBU and senior lecturer of Department of Journalism of HKBU, Ms. Ewing Robin. The workshop will be held for five days starting Oct. 24.

This is a news writing assignment for MAIJS Program, Hong Kong Baptist University





Clinton and Trump slammed each other in first debate

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump criticised each other for unfit to be president in their first face to face presidential debate.

“She doesn’t have the stamina.” the remark added by Trump after he claimed the Clinton is unfit to be president. In response, Clinton highlighted Trump’s racist behaviour when issue over America’s racial divide was raised in the debate.

The presidential debate was hosted at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on September 26. The debate was watched by 84 million people via 13 United States television channels which had live coverage, according to data provider Nielsen.

Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s Nightly News was the moderator for the debate, has raised several questions in connection with topics ranging from achieving prosperity, America’s direction and securing America in the 90 minutes debate.

The debate has drawn attention from the citizens of the People’s Republic of China as China had frequently appeared to be front and centre in the debate, particularly when Trump made the statement on blaming China for stealing jobs from Americans, devaluing its currency and participating in cyber hacking. “They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China,” Trump said.

Apart from that, Clinton also claimed that Trump thought that “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese”. However, Trump denied that with repeatedly mentioned thrice “I did not”.

Trump urged China to use its power over North Korea’s nuclear tests activity which he claimed U.S. were “doing nothing there”. Trump also comparing U.S. infrastructure, with China’s incredible airports, said that “our airports are like from a third world country.”

In contrast, Clinton retorted with her past experience served as secretary of state, had actually increased American exports globally by 30 percent and to China, 50 percent. “I know how to really work to get new jobs and create more new jobs,” Clinton added.

Clinton and Trump slammed each other throughout the debate as Clinton called Trump’s tax policies “Trumped-up trickle-down” did not work while Clinton was criticised for being a typical politician, “all talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work.” said Trump.

Issues which have plagued both Clinton and Trump’s campaign was raised by the candidates to knock each other in the debate. Clinton hit out at Trump over his refusal to release his income tax returns and sceptical about his business dealings, “maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be.” said Clinton.

Trump hit back at Clinton by the controversy of her using private email server during her time as secretary of state “was done purposely”, despite her admitting that she made a mistake and will take responsibility for that.

There is three scheduled presidential debate in the run-up to the election on November 8. The second presidential debate will be scheduled on October 9 in Washington University, after the Vice Presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence which will be kicked off in Longwood University on October 4.

This is a news writing assignment for MAIJS program, Hong Kong Baptist University