Last year saw the first “Love is All Around” essay-writing competition for original work in either Chinese or English. The event was organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists and sponsored by Lu and Marisa Charitable Foundation and proved a big hit, attracting more than 2,000 entries.
The set theme in 2018 was “filial piety”, a core value in traditional Chinese culture. This year, though, the challenge for contestants is quite different. They are being asked to write about their response to a short animated film called The Last Knit by Finnish director Laura Neuvonen.
The competition is open to anyone from primary school students upwards. Last year, in fact, the youngest entrant was just nine, while the oldest was an impressive 89.
Even though most people don’t practise creative writing on a regular basis, it is a very good habit to develop. For one thing, it obliges us to think carefully about what we want to say. For another, it then requires us to choose the right words and arrange them effectively so as to express our meaning clearly and persuasively.
Like any other skill, writing improves through practice and, importantly, that general rule applies whatever your age.
At last year’s awards ceremony, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, former President of the Legislative Council and honorary director of the competition organising committee, spoke about the many benefits of the discipline of writing.
“It is a way of learning and a reflective process that helps hone an individual’s emotional and logical thinking,” Tsang said. He added that maintaining the habit of writing is believed to help personal growth and develops one’s cognitive abilities. Simply put, writing can power the brain.
For this year’s competition, the main subject is a six-minute animated film The Last Knit, which has already been viewed over 10 million times on various video-sharing platforms. It depicts a lone woman knitting a scarf by the edge of a cliff. As the scarf grows longer, the woman starts to knit faster and faster.
Inevitably, this prompts questions about what the scarf represents and what the purpose is of all the frantic knitting.
There are possibilities for stories about what happens next or about different responses to the film, all of them offering chances to present ideas, interpretations, and possible twists and turns.
The “Love is All Around” 2nd Hong Kong Chinese & English Essay-Writing Competition has separate categories for primary students and secondary students, as well as an open category for members of the general public. The basic requirement for primary students is to continue telling the story as they imagine it unfolding after the film ends. Entrants in the other two categories are expected to write either a review of the film or about their impressions and response to seeing it.
Entries can be written in either English or Chinese and there is a word/ character limit for each category – for primary level it is 500, for secondary 1,000 and for the open category it is 1,500.
Cash prizes ranging from HK$10,000 to HK$30,000 and trophies will be awarded for first, second and third place in each category. In addition, there will be ten merit awards, including cash prizes of HK$2,000 to HK$3,000 and a certificate.
Edited by John Cremer