The “Taoyuan New Immigrants Cultural Hall” (桃園市新住民文化會館) recently hosted a film-making workshop featuring Taiwanese-Filipino director Rina Tsou (鄒隆娜).
One of Tsou’s films was nominated by Cannes Film Festival in 2016 so she offered to teach immigrants and migrant workers how to document their own stories and turn them into movies.
Rina Tsou started the first class on May 1 by playing two of her short films — “Ching Mei’s Hands” and “The Horrible Thirty: Me, My Father And Richard The Tiger”, introducing to the participants the different forms and styles of documentaries.
Rina then asked what stories they wanted to film to which they happily replied their wishes to tell personal stories.
It got pretty emotional when the immigrants started sharing their experiences regarding how they’ve been unable to visit their home countries due to the pandemic, the hardships of living in Taiwan, and raising their children in a foreign country.
Rina emphasized that filming is only a tool and a medium for storytelling, which serves the most crucial part in film-making — telling a story that matters in an authentic way.
Rina encouraged the students to ask themselves, “why is it essential that I tell this story”, and to use what they learned in the workshop to experiment with different ideas.
After the course ended, Rina shared that she once held a film-making workshop in the Philippines for children in disaster areas and that the precious experience led her to teach this course to immigrants.
“I planned to document how the area was affected by disasters, yet I knew that I couldn’t stay there forever. Film-making is a tool, I decided to equip them with the skills that would allow them to tell their own stories.”
Chang-Yu ting (張瑜庭), the deputy CEO of the Taoyuan New Immigrants Joint Service Center (新住民聯合服務中心), said at the event that she believed sharing one’s story is a therapeutic experience, and by encouraging immigrants to share their intimate stories and struggles, they would also be able to get better and heal themselves through the process.
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