Expo Faces

Elderly get the world at their doorstep

By Wu Yiyao (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-22 09:12
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 Elderly get the world at their doorstep
Tang Shengnan shot his video of the Expo 2010 Shanghai especially for elderly people in local nursing homes. Yong Kai for China Daily

One aging photographer delivers his footage of the Expo to nursing homes around the city, Wu Yiyao reports.

Amateur photographer Tang Shengnan decided to shoot his video of the Expo 2010 Shanghai after meeting elderly people in the city's nursing homes, who have been too intimidated to visit the event because of the heat and crowds.

Tang, 65, said he made up his mind to make the 29-minute short movie after visiting his sister's home and being greeted by a sea of bored faces.

"I used to go there and see all these elderly people sitting around doing nothing," he said. "They have very nice housing, but little in the way of entertainment. I was saddened to hear them saying they couldn't visit the Expo Garden because it was so intimidating."

Tang visited the Expo Garden five times to collect footage for his documentary, which he kept short. He queued for hours to get into the most popular pavilions, even though "they may only appear in my film for a couple of seconds", he said.

He spent 2,000 yuan ($300) yuan of his own money making 300 copies of the film, and delivered them himself on his bicycle.

He has since shown the movie to thousands of aging Shanghai locals in 10 homes, but he says he feels frustrated that he cannot do more.

"I've only been able to get to a fraction of the population of elderly people in the city. There are nearly 700 nursing homes here, but I don't have the means to deliver my discs to all of them," he said.

He has since contacted local authorities and enlisted their help in getting his film to more of the homes.

Tang said he had to return to the Expo repeatedly as he discovered factual gaps and curiosities in his original edit.

"As I looked at my early footage of the Italy Pavilion, for example, I realized that I had no idea who painted one of the pictures in the background, so I added this as background information in the script," he said.

He said his latest project helped fill a gap in his personal life after his relatives passed away.

"I spent 15 years taking care of my parents and my parents-in-law. They are now resting in peace, so I can help other elderly people around me."

Tang used to shoot beautiful brides and wedding ceremonies. Now he feels he is playing a more socially responsible role while showing others what is possible.

"When I help the elderly see the world, I am fulfilling my value as a senior citizen, as someone who wants to do something for other people despite my age," he said.

Readers who are interested in Tang's film can get free copies by calling 021-6475-9505.

(China Daily 10/22/2010)

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