The Sea Hut - 海边的小屋
English/Chinese/English subtitles/Chinese subtitles
Full-length documentary - Mixed Media
My mother was born in Shanghai’s French concession in 1930. She was looked after till the age of 5 by her Chinese Amah, who was like her mother. Both were heartbroken when my mother left to go back to England with her mother and sister when the Sino-Japanese war broke out and life became too dangerous.
Her French father, Roger Felix, remained in Shanghai, then finally left for Vietnam in 1949 when Mao claimed China as the People’s Republic.
After the war, Amah came to England with another family. She met my mother and spent two hours with her, leaving her a small gift which my mother still cherishes.
My mother never saw her again. Amah’s ending has haunted my mother for years.
This is a story of love and loss, identity, memory and forgiveness. A story of uprooted people. We move backwards and forwards between my mother’s past, and to my own present - a small fishing village in China, where a sea hut becomes a metaphor for the veil between our two worlds: Europe and China, past and present.
Approach and Style - Mixed Media
I only had 20 family photos from the 30s, and 5 minutes of super 8 from the 70s. I reconstructed the past with found footage which I found from the prelinger archives. Much of this archives is Common Creatives, CC, which means the films are in the public domain. I also used Wikimedia for public domain photos.
I recreated certain scenes and used a lot of filters in the editing stage to change images from new to old. Saturation of colour was important and much of the work I did was intuitive.
I learnt about colour correction and created my own palette which followed no order, just feeling. I spent two years experimenting. I simply love working this way, it gives a lot of scope and edges towards fictional elements yet keeping within the story, the facts, a bit like a colouring book.