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Utar filmmaking star sparkling in international arena

  • Lee Sheng Wang.jpg

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) advertising student Lee Sheng Wang is a rising film-making star who got the world’s attention when his three-minute educational documentary film showing the entire process of cochlear implant surgery won the silver award at the 2010 Commonwealth Vision Awards held at the Commonwealth Club in London on 14 October 2010.

The competition, organised jointly by the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, is aimed at encouraging creative film-making on developmental themes, particularly relating to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by young prospective film-makers in the Commonwealth. The theme for 2010 is ‘Science, Technology and Society’.

Lee was flown to London, courtesy of various sponsors, including Malaysia Airlines, National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and the British High Commission in Malaysia, to receive his award at a high-profile Commonwealth Gala Awards Ceremony attended by senior diplomats, leaders of Commonwealth organisations and media figures, including the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Lee received a certificate and a book from Gurinder Chandha, one of Britain’s most respected film-makers with a successful track record in directing films which are international box office successes.

The competition was judged by a distinguished panel of judges comprising former BBC news anchor Keshini Navaratnam, Academy Award-winning Atlantis Films founder Michael MacMillan, independent Australian filmmaker Charlotte George, Jennifer Sobol, who runs creative programmes at the Commonwealth Foundation, and Melanie Tankard, representing the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

On his award winning entry, Lee said he was inspired to choose cochlear implant surgery as his film topic because he wanted to send a message via the audio visual media to parents and the public that early intervention through medical processes could assist hearing-impaired children to lead a normal life.

“During my school days, my brother and I used to follow my mother, who was doing some voluntary work with the Day Care Psychiatric and the Pediatric Ward at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM). I learnt that many young children with impairment could be remedied with early medical intervention. However, it is regrettable that many parents are not aware of the availability of such intervention. I had since set my heart to play my part in disseminating this information and reach out to large audience,” Lee said.

Lee took about two years to complete the documentary. The editing of materials, and composing of music and voice-over took up most of the time and he had to do all these in between his studies and other commitments.

Lee, who had shown much talent in film-making since the age of 15, said: “I just had this keen interest to want to do a film. I did a lot of reading and research and the more I learn and explore, the higher was my interest level. Self-learning was not easy and the intensity of my interest in this field was the motivating factor. I have to balance my time on hobby and my studies. In some ways, both are complementary. As I am pursuing a course in advertising at Utar, the knowledge gained in some of the subjects is relevant to film-making. At the same time, my extra reading and research reinforces some of the theories in the course of my studies.”

For the preparation and coordination of the filming, Lee said he did not face much difficulty.

“Our good relationship with the doctors and faculty members was critical in getting the first clearance to produce this documentary. In this regard, I would like to thank UKM Medical Centre director and dean Datuk Prof Dr Lokman Saim, otorhinolaryngology surgeon Assoc Prof Dr Goh Bee See, Department of Speech Sciences head Assoc Prof Dr Kartini Ahmad, and UKM Faculty of Allied Health Sciences Department of Audiology head Prof Dr Siti, who were all very supportive of this project. The parents of the patient were magnanimous and understanding in giving us the permission to film the operation. I believe all of them felt that it was a project worth supporting,” Lee said.

Besides acknowledging the selfless support of his family, Lee expresssed appreciation and gratitude to Utar Arts and Social Science Faculty's former dean Assoc Prof Dr Teh Chee Seng, and Utar Creative Industries Faculty dean Asst Prof Dr Carmen Nge Siew Mun, who had helped and advised him.

Back in Malaysia, Lee’s award-winning entry titled Pembedahan Implan Koklea had also won one of the top five prizes in the documentary category for the National Short Film Awards Competition Anugerah Karyawan Muda 2008 on 18 April 2009, organised by the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry in collaboration with the National Film Department (FNM) and Department of Broadcasting (RTM). Lee was selected as nominees for two awards, namely, Best Short Film Award and Best Documentary Film Award, at the 23rd Malaysia Film Festival held on 24 October 2010. His short film was also nominated for the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival Awards and will be screened with other international films during the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival from 24 to 28 November 2010.

MySinchew 2010-10-26



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