Short films show us the student soul of Sydney

3 June 2019
The winning films from the University’s Who is Sydney? competition
A story about life as an Australian-born Chinese student edged out a high quality field of student-made amateur films about student life in Sydney and cultural connections.

The winning film, Being an ABC, is a brief excursion into the life of design computing student Teresa Li, who shares her experiences growing up in Australia with Chinese heritage – ‘Australian-Born Chinese’ (ABC).

'Being an ABC' - first place

Teresa teamed up with international student Yiman Jiang on the project, motivated by the current climate around race and politics in Australia.

 “It made me feel as though I wasn’t part of my own country. While there are plenty of ABC’s or just Asians born in Australia, many people don’t hear about us or our perspective growing up in a western country," said Teresa.

"What I enjoyed most was being able to create something that not only addressed a topic I was passionate about but was of my friends and my own effort.”

“Being an ABC is a thoroughly infectious take on the richness and complexity of Australian-Chinese identity,” said Dr Bruce Issacs, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and one of the judges.

“I found the film both smart and provocative, with by far the most astutely chosen soundtrack,” said Dr Isaacs.

“The editing was innovative, and it was interesting to explore the experience of Australian-born Chinese students at University," said Liliana Tai, President of the University of Sydney Union and also a judge.

The runners up

A close second was A Conversation, which as the title suggests invites the audience to listen in on a conversation between two students about their first experiences in Sydney. The team behind it were Damian Zhu and Calvin Huang, with Elliot Sen and Henriette Friis.  

Dr Isaacs described it as “a lyrical presentation of the city and its diverse people coming together”.

“The strength of A Conversation is in its very clever departure from the more standard biographical/first person account,“ he said.

'A Conversation' - second place

Third placed film, Search for Sydney was “a very engaging, highly ‘cinematic’ take on the city, smartly shot, very cleverly cut to the beats of the soundtrack, and with a winning montage to close,” according to Dr Issacs. It was produced by Masters student Harsh Modi, Arts student Lydia Mackie and exchange student Joel Boker.

Seven other films received shortlist prizes from a total of 27 entries. Across the board entrants exhibited impressive filmmaking techniques, storytelling and some highly creative interpretations of the theme. Even an ibis had a starring role which is perhaps not surprising for a competition about Sydney.

The competition was made possible thanks to support from Mr John Wang, LLM(1994), Managing Director of the Australia China Investment Fund.

“I was absolutely delighted at the quality and calibre of these short films from our students.  It is marvellous to see such a diverse mix of students at our University working together being creative, making connections and developing their film making skills all at once.” said Professor Wai Fong Chua, Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Life) and one of the judges.

“Well done to all the students who entered the competition and special congratulations to the three prize winners.”

''Search for Sydney' - third place

Winning advice

Teresa shared some advice to other students thinking about entering the next round of the competition – or simply interested in filmmaking.

“Choose a topic you are genuinely passionate and inspired by. Do it for the joy of making it.”

“Being able to share a story that was personal to me allowed me to create a piece of work that I was proud of. Even if I didn’t win the competition, I would’ve been happy that I made it.”

Who is Sydney film compeition winners

“I feel absolutely ecstatic… both Yiman and I hugged each other and jumped up and down in joy over the news.”  - Teresa Li

The winning teams will also be invited to attend next Semester’s Great Australian Welcome dinner, where their films will be screened for newly arrived international students.

All entries can be viewed on the competition webpage.  Details for the Semester 2 competition will be announced soon via Student News.

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