Odyssey 2024, our annual film festival is to host a pre-festival social screening of La La Land, to support international Chinese students’ well-being.

Responding to a recent story by Yorkshire Bylines, “In a strange land: loneliness amongst foreign students and across wider society”, we have decided to organise screenings that particularly focus on supporting international Chinese students in the UK and their well-being.

What mentioned in this story is very common but yet paid attention to the mainstream media, as Yorkshire Bylines reports:

Although, leaving the safe confines of home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, those who dare to do so can also be at the receiving end of cultural shock, homesickness, loneliness, and uncertainty in some ways.

For Neha, relocating abroad was never a dream – she was left with no choice when her husband decided to move the UK. Recalling her first days here, she still gets the jitters recalling how her expectations were unravelled and she realised it was nothing like the depictions she saw in Bollywood movies and she was confronted with a considerable culture shock. She wryly recounts her dismay at the “weather conditions”, and notes that “the food is another story”. (2024)

This problem is not unfamiliar to us. Our Founder Dr Hiu Man Chan, first arrived in the UK in 2006, where she also faced the same challenge throughout her studies. What kept her sane and inspired, was in fact the fantastic independent cinema culture in this country. She went to the cinema almost everyday by herself, watching films from around the world and it was at the cinema, that she started to learn more about the life and culture in this country.

On Monday 29 April, we are going to do our first pilot project, which is to organise a screening to specifically support Chinese students and their well-being in the UK. Going beyond our usual repertoire which is guided by orchestrating debate and conversation between the UK and Greater China via film, we have chosen a film from the U.S. – La La Land (2016). The reason why this film was chosen, is because of its popularity among young people in China. When it was first released in the country, it grossed over £25m box-office and received multiple re-release due to its popularity.

As an NGO, we have tried multiple initiatives to engage with Chinese students and to help them to settle in this country, including giving out free tickets on social media when a British film is released, to encourage them to go to the cinema so that they can learn more about the British culture via cinema-going.

We hope to develop these initiatives into a more strategic plan/new project going forward. All these ideas were inspired by our Founder’s own experience, when she was once upon a time, also one of the many.

Only few tickets left for La La Land‘s social screening at Curzon Mayfair tomorrow on 29 April at 18:30, book here.

The screening license of this event has been purchased via Filmabank Media. Feature image (c) Lionsgate, UK distributor.