Cycle 1: Vietnam - Hong Kong
Asia Seed is an education programme combined with workshops involving an artist-in-residence and overseas art trip. The project explores the possibility of an alternative art education taking contemporary art as a catalyst to connect Asia’s modern history as well as its social and cultural issues. Asia Seed intends to bring a new perspective on the region to the youth of Hong Kong in order to enrich their international vision with a broader perspective.

Asia Seed programme consists of 4 cycles over a period of two years between 2016 and 2018. Each cycle will engage one Asian and one Hong Kong artist who will collaborate and research Asian history, society and culture in relation to Hong Kong. Based on the results of their collaboration, they will then develop a 4-day art workshop for young local participants aged 14 to 18. Even though these participants do not need to have any experience in art creation, they should be adventurous as well as curious of their surroundings and be able to take challenges head on.

We strongly believe that an artist’s long-term and accumulated experience on creation and research is the most direct and influential way to nourish one’s thinking, and to let more young people take a wider worldview to understand their relation with society. Thus, each cycle theme of Asia Seed project is based on an artist’s practice. The theme of cycle one is “RE_HISTORY”, where “Re” refers to the idea of “recording”, “reading”, “reacting”, “rethinking” and “retelling”.

Taking moving images as an art medium to connect ourselves with Vietnam, how would we interpret the relation?


Vietnam: Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Nguyễn Trinh Thi, is a Hanoi-based independent filmmaker, video and media artist. Since 2009, she is a founder and director of DocLab - a video art and documentary organization in Hanoi. Her diverse practice has consistently investigated the role of memory in the necessary unveiling of hidden, displaced or misinterpreted histories; and examined the position of artists in the Vietnamese society.

Thi studied journalism, photography, international relations and ethnographic film in the United States. Her films and video art works have been shown at festivals and art exhibitions including Jeu de Paume, Paris (2015); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2015-2016); the Lyon Biennale (2015) ; Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (2014); Singapore Biennale (2013); Oberhausen International Film Festival (2011, 2012); Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (2012) and Kuandu Biennale (2010).

Hong Kong: Ocean, Leung Yu-tung

Ocean, Leung Yu-tung lives and works in Hong Kong. He graduated from the Fine Arts Department in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His art practices in the form of object, installation and video. Trying to be inspired by street drifting and observation on social movements, his works appear to be an interplay on the relationship between art and its plights. He was the producer of “The Way of Paddy” and "Open Road After Harvest", two documentary films about organic agriculture and activism in Hong Kong. He curated two projects, “Yau Ma Tei Self-Rescue Project & Demonstrative Exhibition” (Wooferten, 2012) and “P-at-Riot: June Fourth Festival for Post-80s Generation” (2009). He was the residency artist in Things that can happen art space in the winter of 2015.

Participated students

Chan Chi-yan
Chan Ho-chun
Cheng Ka-shuen
Chin Wing-yin
Choi Pak-yuen
Gan Jia-ying
Hui Kei-wing
Ip Yun-sum
Lui Yee-sum
Ku Hau-yin
Lai Ka-yee
Lam Yuk-ling
Lau Tsz-ki
Lee Kwan-yee
Li Na
Mui Nga-ming
Tang Tun-lai

Professor  Frank Vigneron, Law yuk-mui and Yim Sui-fong in conversation with Nguyễn Trinh Thi and Ocean Leung Yu-Tung

Date: 11 January, 2017
Proofreading: Professor Frank Vigneron, Law Yuk-mui, Yim Sui-fong
Editing: Law Yuk-mui, Yim Sui-fong

Exchange and Gap

Yim Sui Fong: Thi (Nguyễn Trinh Thi), I knew that you joined the "Food and Farming Festival" at Mapopo Farm, curated the screening project "Hanoi DocFest in Hong Kong" at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity and also participated in the protest on 2017 January 1. How do you describe your experience in researching Hong Kong movies during the residency, in particular the interview with Paul Au Tak-Shing, a refugee who escaped the war to Hong Kong from Saigon,Vietnam in 1975?

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: For me, I’m a slow person, so I need to have a lot of time for digestion. Although I might have some vague questions that might be related to my previous experience or interests for this residency programme, I would live and just stay open to chances. I try to have this element of chance in my work. I would say that it’s a kind of combination of control and chance. So any of these experiences that I happen to have, they occurred quite out of expectation. I didn’t really have any idea from the beginning that I would join all these things or protest. And I think all of these fragments, like jigsaw puzzle can fall into a big picture. But I don’t want to rush to sum up the whole picture yet. I tend to have a little bit of distance with the present. So I prefer to use or look back at the footage that is already a bit old. I think maybe in that way, the research of the films from the 80s to early 90s can be interesting for me.

Yim Sui Fong: And you must be happy to meet Paul Au Tak-shing, because he was active in the 1970s

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: Exactly, I interviewed him quite early during this residency, like almost immediately after I arrived. So it was very interesting for me to have an entry into this big picture through a personal story. And from his story, there were some important points that popped up and needed to be answered, or to realise the connection, and then I started to read more about other refugee situations in the time of the Vietnam war, and then later how Hong Kong movies represented the boat-people situation.
Thi interviewed Paul Au Tak-Shing, a refugee who escaped the war to Hong Kong from Saigon,Vietnam in 1975
Yim Sui Fong: Ocean (Leung Yu-tung) , how would you describe your experience in this project?

Ocean Leung Yu-Tung: It was quite experimental because this is my second artist-in-residence, and both of them are in Hong Kong. It feels like falling into a time machine, because at the same time I was in a documentary film project with my friend Freddie Chan Ho-lun. We had started to study the stories about the New Territories, about how villagers and farmers protest and live there. It was not our intention to investigate from the perspective of their history. Meanwhile, this programme has exposed more to me how to connect the dots. In fact, I seldom travel to Hong Kong Island, because most of my activities happen in the New Territories. But when I'm living on Hong Kong Island at the residence, I discover more of the colonial history of Hong Kong. For example recently there is a group called “Watershed Hong Kong” who research the war called “Battle of Hong Kong” and investigate how the soldiers of Great Britain and Canada fought for Hong Kong, and it led me to think about the war, the violence, and the connection to the past. In the public talk, I mentioned the Six Days War in Hong Kong, comparing those poor farmers and villagers to those World War II soldiers with full gear; they looked really different. When we compare the act of defense, in my point of view, the villagers were just protecting their own property, but those British soldiers were defending the power’s properties, not necessarily fighting for justice. They were just agents sent by the colony. This has brought me a more complicated point of view on Hong Kong history.

When I was in the cemetery at Happy Valley, I saw that many people who once lived in Hong Kong died from various military actions around the Asian region. It showed the consequence of British colonialism on the lives of individuals. The casualty made me associate colonialism with the violence behind politics.

Law Yuk-mui: As this is an exchange program, would you both share the conversation you had between the two of you? Thi curated a screening in the Creative School that Ocean attended. Thi also visited Ocean’s studio in Fo Tan, and you both led the workshop and worked together. Can you tell us more about this?

Ocean Leung Yu-Tung: It opened up my thinking. Because I am a party goer, I always go to openings. However, from the collaboration with Thi on the basics of video production, I saw her concentration, in particular about her own artistic concern and video making education. I have learnt a lot about local identity and activism from the dialogue with her. She inspired me to be more focused on what I could do with art. This helps me think about investigating the possibilities of the medium itself and how it is essential for generating social impact. Although we are working on different social contexts, she is inspirational.

When Thi visited my studio, she asked about my friend’s music creation, and Hong Kong movie stars and we talked about that all night while we were celebrating New Year’s Eve. We watched youtube channels like CapTV, remember?

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: The fake one where they use the classics and …

Ocean Leung Yu-Tung: There’s a channel called CapTV. And they use scenes from gangster movies to joke about the Hong Kong elections, and they re-do voice over with found footages. This exchange reminds me that I need some kind of environment in art to exchange idea; and actually the environment is already around me. And I think it’s good to have this experience at this moment because my artist career just started a year ago. This program helps me stay focus and calm to organize my daily schedule.

Frank Vigneron: That means you like the focus and the seriousness because you have been lacking that for a long time.

Ocean Leung Yu-Tung: Details and focus. From Thi I found and learn about attitude and patience. Every time we talked, we stuck to the core of the discussion/ important thoughts. I also enjoyed the residency as it has provided a space for contemplating, observing, reading with or without purpose rather than producing “new” works. It encouraged well-thought planning about the possibilities of the research direction - these are important.

History & Moving images practice

Yim Sui-fong: Let’s talk about the practices. Thi, why is your creation concerned about “investigating the role of memory in the necessary unveiling of hidden, displaced or misinterpreted histories”? Your practice involves making use of found footage, taking up the form of documentary, and it is now also concerned with the topic of landscape. Can you share with us this development?

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: Actually the quotation you mentioned is not mine, but from others reviewing my work. It’s not a bad description. When I look back at my works, I think a lot of them attempt to be related to memory and our relationship to the past or history. Because one of the issues for artists that we always deal with is the question of what is our position in this life, in this reality, in this history. We would look at what we have learnt before, and what history told us. [We look at] the books and all kinds of situation that help us come up with our understanding, but we would find out that there are a lot of lies in that information, especially like in Vietnam, when we grew up. That is a one-party country and the history is rewritten by the official, the party, everything like that. So we didn’t really receive any true information at all, like either through education or media until today. All the history was fake and distorted. So how can we justify our understanding after we receive all that fake information? I think it becomes a beginner’s step even just for me to unwind everything and in the process I would have many questions: what is history, who is authorized to write it, what can be a legitimate source of history or information. So it's not simple. It's complicated, and you would come up with your own kind of thinking of what made up history. Everyone has the kind of value in contributing to what is history, even the very unimportant sources or the kind of stories that is not directly related to very important events as we usually perceive them. That’s why I really like this version of history, like a personal story, like the one from Paul. Actually from his story or my conversation with him, it’s interesting because many parts of his commentary are opposed to what we would understand to be typical events. For example, normally you would think of a war with victims, suffering and unhappiness. But for him the war time was the best time of his teenage life, and he just couldn’t stop talking about how happy he was (e.g. the American cultural influence). That was relating to personal memories and I found it very interesting. It is a complex system that we have to deal with and we have to decide how we would want to relate to history and what we allow to enter as history.

Frank Vigneron: This sort of goes back to the beginning of this conversation when you were saying that you are always in a position of expecting things to happen, that you take it slow and so on. But actually to me, your approach strikes me as very much based on research, so again it seems to me more proactive than the way you presented it. I do realize that Paul’s interview, for instance, was accidental. Without Andrew Guthrie’s books at Art and Culture Outreach (ACO), we would have never found him. At the same time you come to that interview with already a huge amount of research on the topic of migration, on the Vietnam War and so on. You see this as very casual, and I see this as research-based.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: I think that probably my approach has two layers. Maybe one layer is based on some foundation and previous knowledge and research, and then also some formulation of potential questions to go forward. But on the other layer, it’s based on chance. So in that way I think my approach is to keep it open for new discovery, and although I formulated certain questions, I get informed by new encounters, and then I would look at these formulated questions again. So in this case I wouldn’t say that it was specific, but it was a kind of an extension of my previous work Vietnam the Movie. It was related to the relationship between Vietnam and the world, and in particular during the time of the Vietnam War. And I became more curious about an Asian perspective because Vietnam the Movie was seen through the eyes of mostly the West, with the exception of a few movies from Asia. It looks like we still have the legacy of the Cold War when all these Asian countries were divided and served different sides. So I came to Hong Kong with these questions. Maybe this would be a good chance for me to open it up a little bit to the Asian perspective of the same question. And then by chance, Hong Kong was an important country of these divides in the Cold War and also has some relation with Vietnam, especially the post-war Vietnam, so it serves as a really good place to extend this research. So my question when I first came to Hong Kong was a bit broader than now: a potential Asian perspective of different Asian countries. But during the residency, I think it became a bit more focused on Hong Kong when I look at the films and started to map the relationship between Vietnam and Hong Kong since the war and after.    
Hong Kong director Ann Hui has three pieces of works about Vietnam, including the From Vietnam(1978) in Below the Lion Rock TV programme series, The Story of Woo Viet (1981) and Boat People (1982), common known as Vietnam Trilogy. (images from internet)
Another thing that emerged from the research was the Chinese and Hong Kong identity which become more complicated. It’s not just the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and Hong Kong anymore, but it’s expanding. Because, as far as the Vietnamese refugees who came from Saigon to Hong Kong were concerned, actually a lot of them were Chinese. So Vietnam is like a transit stop where they stayed for a while. They may not totally have had a Vietnamese identity but tended to lean towards being Chinese. So it’s a part of a bigger network, like what it means to be Chinese is sort of circulating through all these parts. And then what also happens now to the Hong Kong identity as well. Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997. So I feel like the picture is getting expanded and I tried to stitch all these pieces in which Vietnam was one part, but the map is getting bigger.
Vietnam the Movie (2016) , Single channel video, 47 min, color and B&W, sound
Law Yuk-mui: Ocean, you used “reportage” to describe the two documentary films you produced. How do you treat the topic of “history” and “video as a medium”?

Ocean Leung Yu-tung: My production team and I found that we don’t want to repeat ourselves by just doing interviews, collecting oral history from others. Because we want to move on to push the boundary on form and experience, to experiment on documentary film to see how far we can go. When my friend saw our previous documentary films, The Way of Paddy and Open Road After Harvest, and asked what is our intention to set such a topic to develop, we found that the initial idea was to make a documentary film to participate in the protest, rather than bearing a question to investigate. Now, as documentary film makers we are trying to find more challenges from modern perspectives. It is also the reaction reflected by the recent years’ so-called Hong Kong independent films practice and movement, because most of us are making things by reacting to the present, but we never have enough time to do research or to react. Freddie and I found this problematic. And after two films we couldn’t do this anymore, because social media and the internet are doing the same thing. They are responding even faster with insight by writers but not film makers. So the medium may have some constraints if we want to do a full length feature documentary.
The Way of Paddy (2013), Hong Kong, Color , 128 min, Cantonese, Chinese and English Subtitled. Director: Fredie Chan Ho-Lun, Producer: Ocean Leung Yu-tung.
Frank Vigneron: The way we look at documentary film making is usually by associating it with the idea of being objective, the reality of things and so on. This also makes me think about how many artists conceive socially-engaged practices, the way it is supposed to deal with real social issues. When looking at socially-engaged art practices however, some people react by wondering why on earth artists would do this when social workers might be doing a much more concrete job. I think similar reactions might come up when we talk about documentary film makers: what are they doing differently from the people and who react immediately to situations by using simple tools and social media and do not see themselves as artists.

Asia & Local

Frank Vigneron: Thi, what do you think of the now widely accepted notion of ‘Southeast Asia’  (there are even books with titles like A History of Southeast Asia, where China is only mentioned as a source of emigration in the production of ‘Euro-Chinese cities’)? Many scholars are questioning this notion as too limiting and unlikely to allow an understanding of these places as part of a global network with a long historical reality (the way Singapore has positioned itself as a ‘center’ of Southeast Asia for instance could be seen as a new form of Imperialism). As a Vietnamese artist, did you have to face restrictions or difficulties as a ‘southeastern Asian’? Or has it been beneficial on the whole?

Nguyễn Trinh Thi: I think this question is so difficult; I can only tell you my personal experience and background to see how it relates to Asia. Like growing up in Vietnam, especially northern Vietnam, it’s a very unique experience. Because it is in a part of a very strange network Vietnam was on this side of the Cold War for a very long time as a communist country. Meanwhile Southeast Asia was so divided. When I grew up, I didn’t have any concept of being a part of Southeast Asia. I also think that even now, when I started to travel to Southeast Asia or have friends who are from there, I still don’t quite relate myself to their culture.

Because we were much more influenced by Chinese culture, especially North Vietnam. On the other hand, I think most of the Southeast Asian culture is more influenced by Hinduism. It has a flavor of Indianisation or Hindu culture. But centuries ago, North Vietnam was one country, and then Central and South Vietnam are like other kingdoms, for instance the Champa kingdom, and they are much more Southeast Asian. Like in my film, Letters from Panduranga, it is about Champa. And they were very much part of a Hindu-influenced culture. Because of the communist government, our culture and our kind of social system were organized by being much more associated with the soviet block or the eastern-European block. So that is another kind of administrative influence. So, actually, if I talk to artists from eastern-European countries, I would share more experience with them than with artists from Southeast Asia. Now people call me an artist from Southeast Asia, but actually I don’t really feel that way. So we have a very weird kind of combination of influences. And then I left Vietnam to study and work in the States for ten years, I also missed a big chunk of developments in Vietnam between 1998 to 2007, which was quite an important time of Vietnam’s development. I left right after Vietnam opened up to the world and became sort of capitalist. And of course because of the colonial past, the culture of Vietnam was also influenced by the French. And now we are living in a globalized world. So now when we talk about any kind of pure concept of Asia or something, I don’t know what it is anymore. It’s very difficult. This interesting or weird mix also makes me feel curious to try to sort things out through my work. So for each project, for example, Vietnam the Movie, I would have to deal with how the world, or the West look at Vietnam from different sides, or how Asian countries look at Vietnam, or what was decided by the Cold War. The other project I worked on touches on the issue relating to the Cham and its relation within Vietnam. For instance, the Vietnamese as a majority and the Cham as the indigenous people in their land, but now they are a minority being marginalized. So there was this kind of complex system of relationships that I just try to deal with, or try to understand through different projects.
Letters from Panduranga (2015), single-channel video, color and b&w, sound, 35mins, in Vietnamese with English subtitles. Photo Courtesy of the artist Nguyễn Trinh Thi
Yim Sui-fong:  Ocean, you have mentioned that the constraint of Hong Kong art is too “localized”. Why do you have such thoughts?

Ocean Leung Yu-tung: Hong Kong culture itself is not solid and it changes so fast. In fact, there are a lot of neglected traditional parts of Hong Kong. When I make documentary films, compared with my art creation, I think there is a very big gap. And the gap is caused by the neglect of a lot of things that have happened and might have been important. For example, the history and city development in the northern part of Hong Kong. Being too localized means too centered on one’s own living style, without exploring or understanding more what we call Hong Kong is or was about.

In the 90s, we always used Hong Kong movies, pop culture, and the growth of the economy to talk about the Hong Kong identity. When I did the documentary film on farmers, we realized that this identity just represented the urban cultures and the so-called phenomenon of globalization. When we focus on the metropolitan lifestyle, those people leading a different lifestyle would be marginalized, like new immigrants, villagers, a lot of things…maybe the awareness of being localized is based on my concern for these marginalized groups.


Concept from Ocean Leung Yu-Tung & Nguyễn Trinh Thi
Edited and complied by Rooftop Institute
English translation: Winne Chou 

All right reserved by Rooftop Institute, restricted for commercial use.
Jointly designed by artists Nguyễn Trinh Thi (Vietnam) and Leung Yu-Tung (Hong Kong), “RE_History” is a teaching kit for video production courses. It encourages students to deploy their own micro-history as a basis of their creative endeavours. Students are expected to depict individuals and events in their families, their communities and their campuses, and reflect on their relationships with the world around them.

Through a question-and-answer format, the teaching kit guides students to observe everyday life and unearth topics from what they see, while conveying the vital basics in video production itself: pre-production research, shooting techniques and editing skills. This will lead students to use their footage to develop video shorts of varying styles. The teaching kit will use independent documentaries and videos from Leung Yu-Tung and Nguyễn Trinh Thi as examples.

The teaching kit is divided into four parts: "To Think", "To Learn", "To Do" and "To Share". These sections will provide a clear and concise structure for students to achieve their creative goals.

To Think



What is your Micro-history?

Download the worksheet ⇣

To Learn (I)



How could your micro-history can be embodied in a video? Before you start shooting, do you know what is video?

Video is a time-based media, which combines a sequence of images to form a moving picture.
picture by picture / frame by frame (for example 24 frames per second) 
Horse in Motion, Eadweard Muybridge, ca. 1886
Image from: Photography collection, Harry Ransom Center
Nowadays, technologies lead to video shooting with sound recording at the same time.
visual and sound synchronize (Left: film, Right magnetic tape)   
1935 an optical sound-on-film 16 mm camera was released 
internet resources:

What is your tools?

A film camera, video camcorder, digital camera, smartphone...etc. 

Tip: The device isn’t limited your creativity, please pick whatever you have to start creating your video.

How to tell a story?

Where / Place: Place is the performance space the characters will occupy. Where does your story take place? A towns, cities, regions or countries?It is Indoor or outdoor space? Public or private? Natural or artificial?  

When / Time: Past, present or future? Can it be co-existed in the video to form a non-linear narration? 

Who / People: What are they doing? What can their movement tell? Who are they talking to? 
Are they facing the camera or people next to the camera? 

Which / Object: Objects can hold incredible stories, how can we extract, distill, and present them? What is the connection between the space, people and objects?

To Do



Let’s make a video work about your Micro-history.

Mission and requirement of the video
  • This is a 5-minute video.
  • Visualizing your personal story about your family history, school, neighborhood or community with visual and sound.
  • Use only basic video shooting methods and film elements, but with the details. 
    Tip: Small is Beautiful
Before you start please ask yourself the following questions
What do you want to know and letting others to know through a video? What do you have to prepare? 
E.g. You heard a story from your mother about her teenage. How can you visualize it?Re-making of her experience? Re-visiting her old photo album? 
When shooting a story about her, do you want to tell the truth to the others? Like if she participated in a public event, do you know about the historic background of the event? Is it actually happened? What is it about?
You have to check the facts before making the video.

How do you describe a community? 
Is it only telling the story following your own path on the way to school? 
Are there places and people that you don't know and understand? 
If you want to shoot them, will you face any unexpected difficulties? 
Will the presence of the camera make the others feel disrespectful?
Tip: Walk around the places, and observe the people in the environment may help you to decide what is suitable or available to shoot. Sometime you may need to negotiate with some parties to get their permissions of shooting. 

You should plan your shooting with supporting knowledge and common sense in advance. 
E.g.opening hours of a place, working hours of people, living pattern of the old lady, customs and taboos, transportation during shooting.
Let's make a storyboard before start shooting
A Guidelines for preparation for shooting
Safety is the first priority.
Prepare enough battery for shooting.
Prepare the storyboard and daily shooting schedule.
Let your family and teachers know your schedule and location.
Find a peer to help shooting.

Shooting the environment
Imagine the composition of the shot on storyboard and test it onsite.
Focus on listening and observing the environment before shooting, you will discover more.
Frame slowly without shaking if possible. Try not to do complicate cameramovements.
Capture a longer take than you need. 
Each shot should not less than 1 minute.
Record the background sound for later editing
Black shapes (2016), Ocean Leung Yu-Tung
Single channel video, color, 4:3, stereo, 15 mins., loop 

In this clip, handheld camerawork is adopted so as to capture the spontaneous events unfolding on the street. The tension between the public and the police - separated by a taxi — is conveyed through a single long take. It's worthy to note how the artist uses sounds and zooms to attain his/her aim.
Shooting with subject/object
Following the storyboard, find an appropriate composition, in order the idea of shot can be established. 
Find the right place to do the shooting. Enough light, little disturbances, comfortable for subject/object to be shot.
Take the shot in a steady way to capture a clear image. With a tripod or place on a safe platform like a table.
A place beyond the walls, (2016), Ocean Leung Yu-Tung
Single channel video, black and white, 16:9, silent, 14 mins., loop 

The film uses slow zooming to allow the viewer the opportunity to observe details of the object on screen: the graffiti and messages written by different people on a wall in a public toilet.
A Guidelines for preparation for interview
  • Interview will always help to collect details and reasons to compose a story.
  • What do you want to know from the interviewee? and why?
  • Prepare the storyboard and questions
  • Let the interviewee know the exact schedule on shooting
  • Sound test
  • Beware of background noise
  • Try not to ask close ended questions
Tips: Observe and capture the moment of interviewee when he/she is not speaking. Without dialogue, can the environment and the surrounding depict the subject ? If the interviewee’s answer is out of your expectation, will this new clue leads to more interesting direction?
Open Road After Harvest (2015) , Director: Chan Ho-Lun Fredie
(57:37 - 1:28:40)
This film depicts its interviewees with medium shots. It also uses interviews with members of the subject's different social circles to illustrate his multiple identities — as a farmer's son, a taekwondo coach, a practitioner in organic farming, a former vice—chairman of an agricultural association and an advocate in agricultural policies.

To learn (II)



How to edit your footage to tell a story?

Editing is post-production process of filmmaking. You have to works with the raw footage, selecting shots and combines them into sequences which create a narration or meaning. 

Basically, there are two approaches for film editing: continuity editing and montage editing. 

Continuity editing is a narrative-based editing, combine the shots in different time and locations into an order so that creating an illusion of continuity. Emphasizes smooth, continuous and coherent transitions between shots. 

Continuity editing techniques include match on action (movement), long take, cross-cutting (or parallel cutting), continuous diegetic sound, sound bridge, eyeline match etc. 

Montage editing is opposite to continuity editing, aiming for discontinuity techniques, juxtaposing two unrelated individual shots together to construct a new meaning, with characteristic of discontinuity and jump cut.  

Discontinuity editing techniques include inserts, cutaways, repetition of shots, freeze frame or any violation of continuity rules.

In the following part, we will take artist Nguyễn Trinh Thi’s work Jo Ha Kyu as an example to analyze the editing techniques.
Jo Ha Kyu (2012)
Single channel video, 11:23, HD, color, sound
The term “jo-ha-kyû” is originated from Japanese, it is an essential concept of narrative structure in traditional Japanese temporal arts, representing a three-stage system transitioning from slow to faster to swift. From this video work, jo-ha-kyû, is loosely interpreted against the filmmaker’s subjective experience of Tokyo shortly after the 2011 Japanese earthquake.
Montage Editing
02:00 - 11:22
Montage editing is a rapid, impressionistic sequence or juxtaposition of disconnected images to communicate feelings and ideas rather than telling a story. The footages in this part werecut to match the rhythm of the music on the sound track. This type of editing is often used in music videos.
Continuity Editing – connect by movement, sound or theme
00:30 - 01:25
Shots in train were all moving in one direction and make use of the continuous metro travelling sound linked up the sleeping passengers.
Continuity Editing – connect by movement
07:48 - 08:28
A series of shots of vertical movement.
Continuity Editing – connect by theme
07:07 - 07:47
A series of shots with circular light source
Continuity Editing – eyeline match
06:35 - 07:06
A series shot associated with glances
Continuity Editing – cross-cutting
02:15 - 4:45
Cross-cutting cutting back and forth between different actions or story lines, for exampleIn the film the conductor scene is parallel cut with the happening on streets, not only creates the illusion that all the events are happening at the same time, the editing also enhances anticipation or anxiety.
Montage Editing – jump cut, repetition of shots
01:53 - 05:55
Intertwining with a series of close up of walking legs drifting on the street.
Montage Editing – jump cut, repetition of shots
05:58 - 06:33
Repeating with cross-cut of jumping performer and rabbit spinning.

*unless specified, all the film stills are provided by the artist

To share



Sharing creations with others is a key stage of self-reflection and the exchange of views. Can you share with us what you’ve experienced in the above exercises? Please email the text and images to

Student's Works

Chan Chi Yan, Half, 4’42”
Chin Wing Yin, The Sky, 4’14”
Ip Yun Sum, Testing, 4’00”
Ku Hau Yin, Lohas Park, 5’14”
Lai Ka Yee, Hand over hand, 5’04”

Study Trip - Vietnam

Dates: 2017 July 17 – July 26 (10 days 9 nights)
Main area: Saigon(3 nights)▶︎ Hue(3 nights)▶︎ Hoi An(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

胡志明市 (3 nights)> 順化(3 nights)、會安 + 峴港(3 nights)

For the cycle 1 of our art trip in Asia, we invited ‘Mr Chan’, artist Kurt Chan Yuk-keung, who has 28 years of art teaching experience at university, to join Rooftop members, students and guest artists in this journey. We hoped this 10-person tour composed of diverse age groups could explore Vietnam and discuss art on the road from different perspectives.

We set three main directions for the itinerary: the history of the Vietnam War, social development and the art and cultural ecologies of locals and expatriates. As artist Ocean Leung Yu-tung is studying the history of the Battle of Hong Kong and many local films themed on Vietnamese refugees were produced in the 1980s and 1990s, Leung would like to understand the war that resulted in such as a large scale refugee flood. Vietnamese artist Thi considers the capital, Hanoi, overly urbanized. He thinks the central part has preserved more historical relics and accessible culture of indigenous ethnic group the Cham. Mr Chan puts forward how Vietnamese history has long been influenced by Chinese culture and has thus been deriving various ‘variations’ and a unique culture, e.g. Chu Nom (a writing system based on Chinese characters to represent Vietnamese words). The study of the influence of the expatriates would assist us to understand the situation in Hong Kong in comparison. On the other hand, to students aspiring to work in the creative and art industries, subjects such as ‘how artists make art into a career’ and ‘the operation of an art organization’ are something they seldom come across in Hong Kong. Therefore, we set three areas in the itinerary: Ho Chi Minh City – a city with a flourishing contemporary art scene and the city with the highest number of refugees fleeing to Hong Kong; Hue – former capital city in which relics with Chinese character carvings are found everywhere and the origin of the Cham ethnic group; Hoi An – the first external trading port, which is comparable to a mini Asia.

Social and Historical Aspects

Further reflections: The 20-year-long Vietnam War ended in 1975. Do you know how the war has influenced the living in Vietnam today? The livelihoods of 70 percent of Vietnam’s population depend on agriculture, meanwhile Vietnam has more than 3000km of coastal line. How would the ecological changes influence their livelihoods and their culture even?

Popular tourist spots fostered by history: For instance, the War Remnants Museum and An Bang village. The War forced countless citizens to flee to overseas. More than 80 percent of the villagers in An Bang village fled successfully. The descendants of these refugees subsequently sent money back to renovate and construct their ancestors’ tombs. The practice has gradually popular and competitive – tombs are already built for those still alive. The design of the tombs merges different religious elements with Chinese components, while some of them retain Chinese couplets. 3 km in length, the whole city has become the City of Ghosts accommodating both the living and the dead. Thuy Tien Lake, an abandoned waterpark: The closed-down waterpark is evidence of the impact brought by the Asian Economic Crisis. One of the attractions in the waterpark is a car replica of the model used by Thich Quang Duc when he burned himself in the urban area of Saigon in 1963 to protest against the government’s Anti-Diem policy. The historical event nevertheless became an attraction in the waterpark. The unusual deaths of marine creatures in lagoon: An enterprise illegally discharged toxic industrial waste through hidden drainage into a lagoon and caused numerous deaths of marine creatures. Some artists initiated civil protests, which were suppressed by the governments. Yet, the government eventually stopped the enterprise’s activities. Hanh Green Youth Collective: Located in An Nhien village in Hoi An, it is a voluntary organization that promotes sustainable living, including gardening, communal living and youth education. Not only do they rehabilitate some nearly extinct ancient agricultural species, but they also learn herb therapy from the locals, actualizing a self-contained community. At the same time, they refer tourists to local farmers, who conduct cooking experience workshops to increase household income.

Local and Expatriate Cultures

Further reflections: The Kinh people, namely Vietnamese, take up 87% of the total population of Vietnam. They have been under the influence of Chinese culture for a long time. The local people, the Cham, in the central region are originated from the Champa ancient culture that was influenced by India. How does the culture of overseas Chinese intersect with the indigenous cultures in Southeast Asia and how do they influence each other?

My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the relic of a Hindu temple built between the 4th and the 14th century for the worship of Shiva. Hoi An, a two-hour car journey away from the site, became the most important trading center in the 16th century. A large number of Chinese immigrants came here for business. They established Fujian, Guangzhao, Chaozhou, Qiongfu and Chinese kongsis. Each kongsi enshrined ancestors and the deities they believed in, e.g. Sun Wukong. We also visited Complex of Hue Monuments, a palace modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City. The regime of the then Nguyen Dynasty was recognized by the Qing dynasty. On the road, we passed a temple that advocates ‘the great harmony of thousands of religions’, an emerging religion in the 50s – Caodaism. Accepting the coexistence of various deities, it combines Eastern and Western religions popular in Vietnam. Even historical prominent figures such as Churchill, writer Hugo and Sun Yat-sen were considered as the subjects of worship.

Art as a Career

Further reflections: How do artists and art organizations operate under the state socialist system and how do they create and live?

Cafes and artists: We interviewed four artists who run different styles of cafes. They operate them in the form of a small-scale independent shop, actualizing the their autonomous attitude towards life. Some of them became a form of their creative actualization. Bang Duong: Overseas Chinese, apart from his creative photographic works, he grows coffee beans and makes a living from running his cafe in Chinatown. Nguyen Van He: Works in the performing arts industry. As his father worked in the U.S. army for a number of years, he collected considerable war memorabilia. Thus the family-run cafe is like a war museum. During the visit, he showed us vases polished by cartridge cases. The vases are usually placed in churches for worship. Tuan Tran: A visual artist who works as a sculptor. As the founder of Then Café, he operates the cafe to actualize social movements, e.g. inviting overseas artists to reside, planning art events for the public, opening up the imagination towards social movements and cultivating the possibilities of different alliances. Nguyễn Việt Long: Architect and a core member of art group Nha San Art Collective, he founded Coeverything with the objective to establish a cross-disciplinary experimental space, which isn’t a cafe, but an art space integrating catering, architecture, stationary retailing, co-working space, art exhibitions, talks and workshops.

Academia and art education: We got to know three people working in an art academy who take up different roles. Vi Do chose to complete her MA in Art at the City University of Hong Kong. She held her solo screening in art space Floating Project. It is an ethnic study themed on marginalization and the lives of Vietnamese living in Hong Kong. UuDam Tran Nguyen, a visual artist who works on commission and has participated in a number of international exhibitions. He also devotes his time to teaching at university. He invited some of his students to be his assistants to handle the daily routine of his studio in the form of mentorship. Huy Do is a professor at the College of Arts of Hue University, who studied art in Australia. His aspiration for art education was determined in the very early days. He was the first group of people who included public art in university art program. Though the government’s ordinance on public gathering is stringent and the creative activities in public spaces are constrained, he has still inspired many artists, e.g. Tuan Tran, to engage in community-based creative works.

Art organizations and their operation: Whether relying on private funds or public resources, every art organization is constantly looking for a model that is able to incorporate its vision and sustainable development. To get a better understanding, we visited different art organizations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam institutions. Zero station is a non-profit-making art organization sponsored by the cultural fund of The Japan Foundation. It emphasizes the discussion, study and promotion of contemporary art. This is reflected in the daily work of co-founder Nguyen Nhu Huy, who translates English art theory books into Vietnamese. One of the organization’s visions is to connect with Asia; it is the frequent participants in exhibitions of different scales taken place in Asia. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre organizes exhibitions and seminars. It has a book corner, co-working space and a pub. Its operation is sponsored by private funds. One of its ambitions is to sort out Vietnam’s contemporary art history, which is undocumented for a long period due to the War. The documented history will be exhibited and published. The operation of Salon Saigon is sponsored by a private collector. Located in the residence of a former U.S. ambassador, the gallery conducts commercial transactions. Showing mainly two-diemensional works, it gives special support to local young artists. Dia Projects is a private organization supporting mainly artists’ researches, in the form of contemporary art experiments, exhibitions, publications, dialogues and beyond.
Rooftop Institute: The 10-day trip to Vietnam was packed with actions, with everybody moving around quickly. It wasn’t easy to talk about art, go filming with the students, and experience the sceneries and local life of Vietnam, all at the same time. Thanks to the Vietnamese artist Tran Tuan’s guidance, we had an unusual cultural experience. Ocean, could you talk about your observations and discoveries based on your personal experience?

Ocean Leung: This time we travelled around different ruins in Vietnam, for example An Bang Village - a farm transformed into a stretch of civilian cemetery. Inside there were some extravagant architectural designs: it was surprising to see a memorial arch and stone stairs on a commoner’s grave. Also there was a water park that was abandoned half way through construction because of the Asian financial crisis (Thuy Tien Lake Waterpark). In 2008, a sculpture exhibition was held there, and after that many large-scale outdoor sculptures were just left there in the wasteland. The local government attempted to drive out the former with no avail, while visitors can access the latter by paying small bribes to the guards. These places reveal the ineffectiveness of the authorities. In a country with no freedom of speech or right to protest, the impotence of the administration creates space for freedom in everyday life. For example, our guide Tran Tuan runs a party space that advocates ocean protection, together with her friends, in an unfinished building and the surrounding open space at the seaside. Although it is somewhat basic and rough, it is nonetheless the result of negotiations between the local residents and the landlord. The space was freed up for squatting after opposition from the residents forced the landlord to give up his development plan. The villagers became security guards of the unfinished building, safeguarding this community space. To digress a little, the traffic in Vietnamese cities appear to be chaotic at first glance, with a large number of motorcycles dashing around. But if you look closely, you’ll find that drivers are rarely irritable, and usually give way to pedestrians quietly. My feeling is that while the Vietnamese people live under many economic and political constraints, they are able to live with autonomy and self-discipline under these limits. Hong Kong, on the other hand, prides itself as a city of civilisation and rule of law, but culturally it is in fact bureaucratic and rigid, with a tightening control of civil activities.