Stylo mylo connections

Covid-19 is taking a toll on the mental health of many Hongkongers – with the many twists and turns of the pandemic wearing down emotions and affecting work and study arrangements.

The longer people stay at home amid the pandemic, the more real and prevalent the problems of anxiety and boredom become, with students particularly being affected.

The pandemic has put Chloe Wan, who usually plays outdoor ping-pong with her friends, at a loss.

But Wan has found a new way to escape from a world of uncertainties – film-making.

“I’m a 14-year-old girl living at home,” she said. “Here, most of us live in tiny apartments of 100 square feet. The size of our homes constrains us and it is hard to be physically active.”

Her two-minute short film How I Stay Active at Home emphasized her feelings of confinement with landscape shots from the windows of her home. As the film progresses, her sense of despair starts to lift.

In the film, Wan is seen listening to Lady Gaga’s performances online and engaging her inner musician, spending more time with her parents and even playing indoor ping-pong with her mother on their dining room table.

“When I had the idea of this film, it was hard for me to come up with anything to film at all,” Wan said.

“But when I started to make a list of what I could do at home, I realized that my life isn’t that bad after all. Although Covid-19 has brought much negative health impact on the world, it has also allowed me to reflect on my daily life.”

Her film is displayed under the Film Stylo category on Babel Film Workshop’s website.

Launched amid the pandemic, Film Stylo, an initiative started by Hong Kong filmmaker Jeremy Hung, also the founder of Babel Film Workshop, allows secondary students worldwide to document the effects of Covid-19 on their lives.

In January, Hung arrived at Yale University for a fellowship administered by the Yale-China Association and supported by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York.

He began working with US students to promote arts and cultural exchange, but school closures in March abruptly halted his plans.

But rather than focusing on the negative, the pandemic gave Hung’s fellowship project a new sense of purpose, he said.

Fostering emotional wellness and intercultural empathy through filmmaking are now key elements that have received support from those working in health at the university.

“One of our goals is to foster the psychological concept of mentalization through self-reflection, sharing and discussion,” said Eunice Yuen, a child psychiatry fellow at the Yale Child Study Center, who has also contributed to the initiative’s design.

“Mentalization helps students nourish a healthy sense of self and others in the world, promoting empathy, diversity, and inclusion of our next generation of students.”

The initiative has seen the creation of more than 70 films from 200 students across the United States, Britain, Brazil, India and Hong Kong. With the help of Film Stylo mentors, students can create films to go on the organization’s website.

Hung plans to develop Film Stylo into a global filmmaking platform that provides visual literacy education and facilitates arts and cultural exchange among classrooms around the world.

“The pandemic has made it clear that students’ lives today are dominated by technology, so it’s more important than ever that we teach them to keep sight of what makes us human,” said Hung.

“As the world’s most powerful communication medium, filmmaking is the best way of doing that.”

(This article was published at The Standard on August 4, 2020: Education: Stylo mylo connections )

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