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Film Review: ‘My Voice, My Life’

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 by

If you expected class distinctions would vanish in Hong Kong after re-integrating with the Mainland, reality has been profoundly disappointing. For many, the only significant change is the undemocratic governance mandated by Beijing.
Last fall, thousands of HK students protested for the right to hold legitimate elections. Simultaneously, a group of disadvantaged HK high school students discovered potential they never knew they had when they were selected to stage a professional musical theater production.
Six of their fellow students were also recruited to document their behind-the-scenes drama. None of them were activists, but their efforts to assert control over lives and futures takes on unintended symbolic implications in Oscar-winner Ruby Yang’s “My Voice, My Life.”
The poster for “My Voice, My Life.” (L plus H Creations Foundation)
In Hong Kong, there is a rigid hierarchy among secondary schools. Underperforming students at the last chance “Band 3″ schools are often looked down upon by their peers and their elders, but their employment prospects are still better than those facing graduates of the Ebenezer School for the Visually Impaired.
Of course, the latter students recruited for the awkwardly named L plus H Creations Foundation’s production of” The Awakening” (featuring a conspicuously Les Mis-ish sounding finale) are by far the most reliable during the early days of rehearsal. There will be a pretty steep learning curve for the other kids, both musically and personally.
Frankly, it was not always clear whether the production would really come together. In Coby Wang, they had a lead with all kinds of natural talent, but her acute lack of confidence prevents her from realizing her diva potential. More problematic are the troublemakers who undermine discipline and unity with their antics. Yet, as the rehearsals progress, the hardest cases start to realize their fellow students are relying on them to get it together.
MORE:Film Review: ‘The Iron Ministry’
Yang (who was last nominated for the short David-and-Goliath doc, “The Warriors of Qiugang“) and editor Man Chung Ma are extraordinarily dexterous juggling the various students’ and their backstories. Viewers really get a fully developed sense of at least eight or nine of the cast-members, while also meeting an assortment of parents, teachers, and theater professionals, which is quite an impressive feat of screen-time management in a ninety-one minute film.
None of these kids are bad per se. Some have just been living down to low expectations. Fortunately, several are extremely charismatic, while nobody in their right mind could root against the earnest Ebenezer students.
Clearly, Andy Lau agreed. The HK superstar and former bad kid saw something of himself in the “Awakening”cast-members, so he hit the Hong Kong publicity circuit on the film’s behalf, making it an unexpected box-office success.
“Voice” gives us reason to suspect there is much more to come from its subjectsOf course, their story does not end here, but at least “Voice”gives us reason to suspect there is much more to come from its subjects (especially since they are now so well known to Lau).
Frankly, they sort of cry out for the “Seven Up”treatment. Regardless, they deserve a chance to pursue a higher education and real career opportunities. Likewise, they ought to be able to vote for the politicians of their choice. At least Yang’s documentary should help with the former.
Recommended for idealistic musical theater fans, “My Voice, My Life”opens this Friday, Aug. 28, in New York, at the Cinema Village.
“My Voice, My Life”DocumentaryDirector: Ruby YangRunning time: 1 hour, 31 minutesRelease date: Aug. 28Rated 
3.5 stars out of 5
Joe Bendel writes about independent film and lives in New York. To read his most recent articles, please visit jbspins.blogspot.com

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International movie star Michelle Yeoh appeared at the Hong Kong popular wax museum Madame Tussauds on July 27 to unveil her second wax figure. The new waxwork is styled as the character “Yu Shu Lien” from the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.
The Kung Fu wax figure of actress Michelle Yeoh after its unveiling at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times )
As the only actress Kung Fu Star, the new wax figure of Michelle Yeoh will join Kung Fu Stars Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan at the brand-new Kung Fu Zone, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong, and pay tribute to Hong Kong martial arts films.
The newly unveiled Kung Fu wax figure of actress Michelle Yeoh will be placed adjacent to the likeness of actor Donnie Yen in the new Kung Fu Zone, at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle said that Chinese martial arts has a long and illustrious history, Hong Kong martial arts films have made significant contributions to the spread of Kung Fu fever around the world. She is deeply humbled to be a part of the Kung Fu culture, and she hopes guests can experience the spirit of Chinese martial arts in the newly opened Kung Fu Zone. She also mentioned that “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II” will be released next year, and she hopes to make another Hong Kong film soon.
Actress Michelle Yeoh receives a gift from Ms Kelly Mak, General Manager, Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong at the unveiling of her Kung Fu wax figure on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)

Actress Michelle Yeoh together with Mason Hung of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Ms Kelly Mak at the unveiling of her Kung Fu wax figure at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle revealed that she made the trip to England herself for the measurements, and spent 5 hours with the UK production team for the sitting process, she said she is amazed by the professionalism of Madam Tussauds studio artists: “It never occurred to me before how similar wax-making artistry is to martial arts – both require patience, precision and an unyielding pursuit of perfection”.

Actress Michelle Yeoh poses with her Madam Tussauds, Kung Fu wax figure at its unveiling to the public in Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle also revealed that she likes to travel, she has just been to India for 8 days for hiking and visiting some temples, and she will begin to shoot 10 episodes for a TV series next month.

At a time when many booksellers are struggling, Eslite is thriving, with 43 stores in Taiwan and one in Hong Kong. One secret to its success in Taiwan: It operates like a self-contained mall.

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The police detained Zhang Miao in October while she was trying to attend an event in Beijing in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.

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Jimmy Lai, who has come under attack for his anti-Communist views, speaks about his role in the Occupy Central protests, why he is distancing himself from his media company and the challenges that lie ahead.

The headquarters of the Next Media Group and the home of its owner, Jimmy Lai, were targeted but suffered no significant property damage.

Dec. 11, 2014 — Pictures of the Day

Friday, 12 December 2014 by

Photos from Afghanistan, the West Bank, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

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