Denied Cinema of East Asia comes to Cov Uni

考文垂东亚电影俱乐部 之 “考文垂近距离邂逅” 当代东亚电影项目

COVENTRY UNIVERSITY Media staff and students have put together a new film society that promises to fill your Wednesday afternoons with surprising East-Asian screenings and intriguing debates. writes Teo Beleaga

At a time when Europe is still struggling to overcome the current state of the economy, distribution of East Asian films is often postponed or forgotten, claims the film society. Spencer Murphy, media lecturer and initiator of this project says: “We are to screen only films that are unavailable, that haven’t been distributed in the West”.

‘Coventry Close Encounters: A Programme of Contemporary Films from the Cinemas of East Asia’ aims to celebrate the hidden film reality of Asia, beyond kung fu and martial arts. “I want to give students the opportunity to watch some films that they may not encounter otherwise” says Spencer.

The screenings will be productions from throughout South East Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia. The society’s plan is to raise cultural awareness in a campus that accommodates over 3000 international students, while encouraging a variety mix.

Media lecturers Val Hill and Spencer Murphy started this project as an initiative, determined by the “very good turnout of students” at last summer’s conference on East Asian films. “Rather than academic, with papers and co., we wanted to open this up” commented Spencer, while also expressing his desire to pass this on: “I want the students to run it themselves”.

When asked why only East Asian cinema, Mr. Murphy said this is the beginning, as there will be opportunities for students to screen ‘un-heard-of’ films themselves, from any other culture, adding that: “That’s my research interest, my PhD research is in Hong Kong cinema, and I had the opportunity to go to China/ Hong Kong to meet and interview some very famous directors and staff like Johnnie To (To-Kei Fung), Wai Ka-Fai and Aaron Kwok.”

Being aware of the unfortunate fact that most of the western students assume Asian films are all the same, the Coventry East Asian film society aims to help them enhance some knowledge of the Asian culture. Talking about the “idea that cultures produce different things than what is promoted”, Spencer mentions a “great cinema quote that broadly says: ‘We can hear the culture singing in the background, but we don’t listen to the music.’” Under the belief that knowledge can be gained by getting close and embracing the unknown, the society counts on its screenings to fulfil this goal.

 One long term objective of Coventry East Asian film society is to get students to represent Coventry University at the UDINE film festival (the biggest film festival in Europe) next April. Invitations, covering all the expenses, have already been sent to the university, but in order to attend, students must prove some involvement.

The society’s programme is also designed to be linked with the famous and yet infamous module called PDP (Personal Development Planning). No matter the degree programme you are studying or the year you are in, you have the option to attend at least three screenings and then insert reviews and reflection entries in your PDP work. But, as Spencer puts it, there is also the option of getting more out of this experience: “I just think it’s a great opportunity in relation to your CV”, adding that: “I would like students to get involved in terms of screening”.

Films are to be screened each Wednesday at 4 pm in the Ellen Terry building. After each film there will be an open forum for critical discussion and debate on the East Asian cinema. Screenings are free and open to all. Joining the society is also free.


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