Another unusual sunny day in Manchester, which would’ve been great apart from the fact that the room we were screening the Chinese films in had massive windows and no blinds or curtains. After several re-shuffles of the room and makeshift window coverings, everything was set up and ready to go. Jenny Wong, founder of the Manchester Chinese Centre, was one of the first to arrive with her staff bringing along Chinese tea and lots of delicious looking snacks. At around 6pm people started piling in and once everyone was settled I counted approximately 30 people in attendance.
The first film was a fascinating documentary about friends gathering together at Southern Cemetery Chorlton to honour Loret Lee, the founding father of Manchesters China town, as part of the traditional Chong Yang Festival.
Before the film there was a foreword by Charlie Chan, a colleague and friend of Lee’s who gave a heartfelt summary of the truly great things that Lee achieved and it was obvious to all in the room that he was sincerely thankful to those who gathered to celebrate Lee’s life. There was also a short introduction by the film makers, local students Wen Qi and Yang Huan Chen, who gave a passionate account of how much they enjoyed making the documentary and what it meant to them to be part of it. There was then a Chinese poem beautifully read by a member of the Manchester Chinese Centre just before the film started.
The film gave an in-depth insight in to what went on as well as a short history of Loret Lee’s life and emotional monologues from those who knew him. The film garnered a fantastic reaction from the audience and sparked many discussions between members.
The next film was ‘Doctors Duties Father’s Dues’ (1991), an intimate portrait of Dr Chui, founder of the Chinese Health Information Clinic (CHIC) Directed by Debbie Jenkins. The film was entertaining and although not quite earning as much of a personal response as the first film, the audience laughed and enjoyed it.
After the film, Jenny Wong gave a further details about the last film explaining with much enthusiasm that all of Dr Chui’s 5 children (who were very young in the film) were now all medical doctors. There was a good response from the audience when the floor was then opened up to questions where further information and areas of interests were discussed.
All in all the screening was a success and I think it would be great to show more films from other ethnic minority communities around Manchester to highlight the fact that the archives are here for everyone to use so people can get a greater insight in to their families past and to help preserve their personal stories for generations to come.