MY VOICE, MY LIFE [AAIFF] + DUMBO [Jaysen Headley’s Disney Vault Project #4 Companion]

JUMP to my DUMBO companion [Jaysen Headley’s Vault Disney Project]



‘My Voice, My Life’ was the Opening Night film for the Asian American International Film Festival [AAIFF] 2015, a documentary from Hong Kong directed by Ruby Yang.

When I first heard that this film was the Opening Night film, I thought, wow, a documentary?  It must really be worth watching.  I can’t say that I remember many documentaries being selected as the Opening Night film for film festivals, so it must be special.

So was it special.  Ofcourse it was ha ha.

So what is it about.  In Hong Kong, schools are graded based on their prestige.  They’re a bit like social classes, in that the lowest level is looked on as wayward; where the bad kids, less wealthy, and less cultured and educated kids go.  So in Hong Kong, a musical was developed and they set out to cast students from a variety of these ‘wayward’ schools, including a school for the deaf.  The film follows the journey of the cast from audition to end performance, focusing on a few specific students stories.

It’s wonderful to see this film and see that it is very accessible.  Though its a film very specifically about Hong Kong and in Cantonese, it’s themes, and struggles of the students and educators are all real, and relate-able regardless of culture.  We all have at some point felt the pressures of acceptance, fitting in, and expectations from others.  We all care about our children, their education and sense of self.  In the film, we see how students interact with other students from different schools, and those who seem different to them.  There are some kids who struggle with school, and are labeled ‘bad,’ and we see the struggle of both these kids and those around them.  They all must either adapt, or fail.  They all learn to be a part of something bigger, and find motivation and sense of purpose from the teamwork needed to put on a production.  The educators in the film are just as engaging to watch, as you hear their passion behind this project, in the training, disciplining and mentoring of these children.  You can feel how these kids are affected by them.  You also get to hear from some of the children’s parents expressing their thoughts, struggles and insights into their children.

The film is a testament to the power of arts programs for youth and it’s role in their education and development.  Arts are a great way to get kids to get involved, find some purpose and passion in life.

I’m not sure how real, or how much these kids really grew, but it seems that the musical had a really big impact for many of these kids, and it also makes for a good narrative.  One child struggled with not being accepted by his mother for having gone blind only a year ago.  He is only just learning braille, and struggles with his self-confidence, especially now that he’s blind.  By the end of the film, the last performance has finished, and the students featured in the film walk out on stage after the bow, to address their family and community, in relation to their struggles throughout the film.  Obviously they set that up to be part of the film, to give it an extra push at the end.  Regardless, it works.  It doesn’t seem forced.  Sure they were probably told to do it, but what came out seems genuine, and heartfelt.  And heartbreaking.

Ruby Yang did such a wonderful job putting together the ‘characters’ and narrative for the film.  Apparently there was like 500 hours of footage!  Wow, that’s a lot to have to go through.  But they must have captured almost everything ha ha.  The end product seems almost fictional, because it seemed so easy to watch, you kind of forget it’s a documentary.  It’s all reality, atleast as much of a reality as a documentary can be.  You wonder in how many cases in documentaries, are there portrayals that are slightly fictionalized to serve the narrative, where truths are slightly stretched.  With how reality television is conceived, I wouldn’t be too surprised.  What’s real, what’s not.  What’s been set up, and framed in a manner to get the result you wanted.  I suppose that’s what propaganda films are essentially; selective and manipulated truth.

In anycase, definitely search this film out, if any of this sounds of interest to you.  I encourage people to watch it.

At the website, you can find out more specific information about the film, including some more videos.  I think it’d be a good thing for educators all over the world to see.  I’d be a good film to show kids.


This post is a companion to Jaysen Headley’s Vault Disney Project (more info below)


Ok,.. so I skipped Dumbo!  Though I HAVE seen it before, it was a long time ago.  I just remember not liking the creepy dream sequences, and clowns,.. there were clowns right?  I think I may skip some of the early Disney Vault animated compilations occasionally cause Jaysen is flying through them.  So, I may intersperse some other topics in my post, but will still link you to his Vault Disney posts!  Anyhow,.. here’s
the link to Jaysen’s thoughts on Dumbo!

After this posting, I think I’ll separate previous posts where I combined two things so that the posts can be better organized.

Jaysen​ Headley’s thoughts on Vault 4: DUMBO from his blog.

JAYSEN HEADLEY’S VAULT DISNEY PROJECTS: Jaysen Headley asked me to re-watch every Disney Vault film in chronological order with him. We’re gonna try to watch atleast one a week if not 2. He’ll be writing a blog to accompany this project, and I will post a companion to it.

Jaysen Headley’s introductory blog post about his Disney Vault project!

It’s a fun project! And I’m also mixing in other older films Jaysen had never seen. Right now, we’re working on Arnold Schwarzenegger & Mission: Impossible films!

Jaysen Headley’s Vault Disney: The Others Project Jaysen also started a sister project for other Disney films that are not considered part of the animated Vault called Vault Disney: The Others, which I will also be posting a companion for.

Next week, no new Arnold film, in it’s place until the next film will be select films from the Asian American International Film Festival 2015.

NEXT UP: BAMBI [Vault Disney #5] 

One thought on “MY VOICE, MY LIFE [AAIFF] + DUMBO [Jaysen Headley’s Disney Vault Project #4 Companion]”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s