Film com­pany uses movies to help young stu­dents. Deng Zhangyu re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH -

After six years of pro­vid­ing free movies for chil­dren from im­pov­er­ished fam­i­lies, a char­ity of Huayi Brothers Me­dia Corp, China’s largest pri­vate film pro­duc­tion com­pany, has launched a plan in Bei­jing to train school­teach­ers on film ed­u­ca­tion and set up about 100 kinder­gartens in poverty-stricken ar­eas.

The Huayi Brothers Foun­da­tion has invited prin­ci­pals from some 100 ele­men­tary schools in im­pov­er­ished ar­eas across 10 prov­inces, in­clud­ing the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, and Guizhou and Yun­nan prov­inces, to Bei­jing for one-week train­ing on film ed­u­ca­tion.

The pro­gram is part of its Pocket Money Cin­ema plan, which has opened more than 100 screen­ing venues in Chi­nese pri­mary schools since 2011.

Speak­ing about the pro­gram, Wang Zhon­glei, com­pany co-founder, says: “We be­lieve in the power of films to in­spire chil­dren’s imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity. To equip these schools with film fa­cil­i­ties and pro­vide free films is the first step. Next we want to teach chil­dren how to ap­pre­ci­ate a film and how to pro­duce one.”

He says in the past six years he has visited many schools in im­pov­er­ished ar­eas.

He says many of the schools have good build­ings and play­grounds ei­ther sup­ported by lo­cal gov­ern­ments or by char­ity groups but they lack art teach­ers and re­lated study ma­te­rial.

He says he once invited a child to sing, but the child re­fused be­cause there was no mu­sic teacher to teach the child how to sing.

Un­der the Pocket Money Cin­ema plan, peo­ple will be en­cour­aged to do­nate money to help build cin­e­mas in pri- mary schools in ru­ral ar­eas.

Un­til now, the char­ity has built cin­e­mas for 150,000 pri­mary stu­dents to en­joy free films. The 100 or so venues have toys, com­put­ers and books, too.

“What mat­ters is whether stu­dents get ben­e­fits from the cin­e­mas,” says Wang.

Next, the char­ity will re­turn to the pri­mary schools to train more teach­ers and com­mu­ni­cate with stu­dents to un­der­stand the in­flu­ence of films, says Wang.

Guo Shou­jing, the prin­ci­pal of Jiaohe Pri­mary School in Huin­ing county, North­west China’s Gansu prov­ince, says pri­mary schools in ru­ral ar­eas typ­i­cally have no art or mu­sic teach­ers.

His school uses the cin­ema as a place to teach stu­dents art and mu­sic, mostly through movies.

Since the cin­ema was built in 2014 in Guo’s school, they have had lots of film classes.

It was also the first time many of the stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies had watched a movie, says Guo.

“The films from dif­fer­ent na­tions en­rich the stu­dents’ imag­i­na­tion. I think imag­i­na­tion is more im­por­tant than knowl­edge,” says Guo.

Wang Zhongjun, the com­pany’s main founder and elder brother of Wang Zhon­glei, is a key backer of the Pocket Money Cin­ema plan.

In the past few years, he has do­nated about 20 mil­lion yuan ($2.96 mil­lion), all of which were pro­ceeds from sell­ing paint­ings to his en­tre­pre­neur friends such as Alibaba founder Jack Ma and China’s real es­tate ty­coon Xu Ji­ayin.

The older Wang is a well­known art col­lec­tor in China who learned paint­ing in his child­hood.

He re­sumed paint­ing as a hobby six years ago when the char­ity was estab­lished.

Many film stars and en­trepreneurs have bought his oil paint­ings to do­nate money to the char­ity’s plan.

He said last week that when he was on a busi­ness trip to Wuhan in Cen­tral China’s Hubei prov­ince, a lo­cal en­tre­pre­neur bought one of his paint­ings for more than 1 mil­lion yuan, which he do­nated to the fund.

“The foun­da­tion drives me to keep paint­ing,” says Wang Zhong jun.

The char­ity plans to build 100 kinder­gartens in poor ar­eas to of­fer free preschool ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially art ed­u­ca­tion.

Wang Zhongjun says he has just seen the de­sign of the first kinder­garten and hopes it will be as ef­fec­tive as their cin­ema pro­gram.

We be­lieve in the power of films to in­spire chil­dren’s imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity.” Wang Zhon­glei, co-founder, Huayi Brothers Me­dia Corp

Con­tact the writer at dengzhangyu@ chi­

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