Film company uses movies to help young students. Deng Zhangyu reports.
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@ chinadaily.com.cn