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University students showcase ICH in creative documentaries

By Fang Aiqing | | Updated: 2024-04-30 10:08
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Students from Guangzhou-based South China Agricultural University share stories behind their short documentary on the city's lion dance culture at Apple's retail outlet in Beijing's Sanlitun on Sunday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A group of university students hailing from Beijing, Chengdu, Kunming, and Guangzhou have skillfully captured the essence of China's time-honored intangible cultural heritage through their lenses, infusing these treasures with a youthful and innovative perspective.

Their short documentaries, spotlighting traditional performances and crafts such as Chengdu-style shadow play, lion dances in Guangzhou, tie-dyeing techniques of Kunming, and Beijing's inner-painted snuff bottles, were recently showcased at the culmination of the Today at Apple Creative Studios Beijing+ program, hosted at Apple's retail outlet in Beijing's Sanlitun.

During the event, select production teams shared insights gleaned from their immersive experiences, gained through the collaborative initiative between the US tech giant and the China Foundation for Rural Development. Over the past six months, students from a dozen universities across the four cities delved into these cultural treasures, conducting interviews with inheritors of these traditional arts and crafts, and crafting visually captivating videos using Apple products.

Posters of short documentaries on traditional performances and crafts screened at Apple's retail outlet in Beijing's Sanlitun on Sunday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

One standout piece, the eight-minute documentary Shining Shadow, delves into the intricacies of Chengdu-style shadow play, shedding light on its regional nuances, puppet-making processes, and the younger generation's dedication to preserving this intangible heritage.

Zhou Jun, a third-generation inheritor of the shadow play craft, shared that the art form traces its roots back to ancient sacrificial rituals, with the Chengdu variant drawing inspiration from Sichuan Opera in its costuming and featuring puppets with remarkably flexible joints. For Zhou, the pursuit of shadow play isn't driven by fame or fortune but rather a deep-rooted passion for the craft itself.

The production team of short documentary Shining Shadowfrom the Chengdu University of Technology share stories behind their capture of the city's highlighted shadow play at Apple's retail outlet in Beijing's Sanlitun on Sunday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Reflecting on the experience, Lin Zhuoyun, a student from Chengdu University of Technology and the director of Shining Shadow, expressed admiration for the dedication of practitioners like Zhou, underscoring the essential role of ordinary individuals in upholding and passing down China's rich cultural legacy.

Wang Shaofan, deputy director of the youth development department at the China Foundation for Rural Development, emphasized the pivotal role of the younger generation in revitalizing traditional art forms. He highlighted how new technologies are empowering the preservation, promotion, and innovation of these cultural treasures, fostering a renewed interest among youth in the inheritance and evolution of intangible cultural heritage.

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