Focus Programme|MY Action: The Folk Memory Project

Focus Programme|MY Action: The Folk Memory Project

When an incident in history textbooks comes into ‘my’ life…

In 2010, director WU Wenguang, the ‘father of Chinese independent documentary’, initiated the Folk Memory Project, where he encouraged young filmmakers to return to their home villages with their cameras and film their interviews with the village elders about what the government called the ‘three years of natural disasters’– the Great Famine between 1959 and 1961.

After several visits by the young filmmakers, the elders finally opened up to talk about the painful memories that they could not, should not and were not willing to talk about. The memories left a strong impact on these young lives. As they returned to their villages with enthusiasm to take action, the filmmakers stirred up and documented this silenced history. During the process, ‘I’ became the narrator of the story. Each individual had a different style and focus in accordance with his/her point of view and sentiment. ‘I, the filmmaker’ connected the present to the past, and allowed these ‘imperfect’ films to ignite more discussions, thoughts and emotions.

Since the Folk Memory Project began, they have documented oral interviews of more than a thousand people, collected the names of the deceased and field research diaries of several million words. More than thirty documentary films and five theatre pieces have been completed. Little by little, these tiny flames in the darkness of history light up themselves as well as others with their actions, trying to stop the history and memories from being erased or forgotten. This year, TIDF organised film screenings, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, forums and theatrical performances to fully present this project of great importance.


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