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Chinese documentary about youth struggling to help their families wins UNICEF Prize

The Chinese documentary 'Blossom with Tears' has won the 2012 UNICEF Prize. In this still from the film, children practise their routines at Wuqiao Acrobatic School in China.

By Hiroyuki Saito

TOKYO, Japan, 5 November 2012 - Chinese filmmaker Huaqing Jin speaks via video message to the 39th Japan Prize ceremony, on behalf of Chinese television outlet Zhengjiang Satellite TV.

Zhengjiang Satellite TV has won this year’s UNICEF Prize for its film ‘Blossom with Tears,’ a documentary about the pressure that falls on young children in some parts of China.

“The fact that the jurors selected our film is an enormous encouragement for me. I will continue to focus on children and follow my dream of creating great television programmes,” says Mr. Jin.

Reward for raising awareness

The UNICEF Prize is dedicated to an excellent piece of work that helps raise awareness regarding the difficult lives of children in an unfavourable environment. The prize falls under a special category of the Japan Prize International Contest for Educational Media.

The media competition, organized by Japan’s public broadcast network NHK, aims to improve the quality of educational programmes around the world. Since 1965, it has promoted the importance of audiovisual products for education.

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the ceremony is His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince Naruhito. He tells the participants that it is important that those who gather at the ceremony from all over the world share each other’s experience and strive to develop educational media.

Most of the children come from deprived areas of the country. Each student endures the grueling regimen every day. Here, in Wuqiao Acrobatic School, girls practise spinning a drum-like vase with their feet.

A profile in pressure

‘Blossom with Tears’ profiles two children, Yuan and Xiang, at Wuqiao Acrobatic School in Hebei Province, China. The 40-minute film starts with children practising their routines. Boys like Xiang hold a handstand for six long minutes. Girls, including 11-year-old apprentice acrobat Yuan, spin a drum-like vase with their feet.

Most of the children come from deprived areas of the country. Every student endures the grueling regimen every day.

“My parents pin great hopes on me. They want me to be successful so that we can move to live in the city. I must be outstanding in the troupe,” says Yuan in the film.

The film portrays the pressure the young children carry throughout the years in order to improve life not only for themselves, but also for their families. Because of such burdens as poverty, divorce and disease, many parents have to rely on their children’s success. Xiang wants to be successful so he can help his younger sister get expensive eye surgery.

“They are away from their moms and dads, living at the school with other children. Then children become the caregivers for other children. Definitely, they have lost childhood. They have lost innocence, feeling the pressure of the world so young, and not having a chance to enjoy the gymnastics as a play,” says Executive Producer of Canadian media organization Reel Girls Media Ava Karvonen, who is a juror for the Japan Prize.

Activities target children

‘Blossom with Tears’ draws attention to the root causes of issues that children and their parents face in some regions of China. UNICEF recognizes severe realities like Xiang’s and Yuan’s.

Along with many key partners, UNICEF is conducting numerous activities for the children, who are kept from enjoying their childhood to the fullest, so that every single child will have an opportunity to survive, develop and reach her or his maximum potential.

This year, the 16-member jury judged 335 entries from almost 60 countries. The Grand Prix Japan Prize was awarded to Perro Verde Films from Spain for ‘Wrinkles.’



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