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Heart of the hutong

By Lance Crayon (Global Times)

14:18, August 29, 2012

In order to make a film, experience using a camera to tell a story is necessary. While technology has made the filmmaking process more accessible, it doesn't necessarily mean it has become any easier. For those who entertain the idea of directing a movie but lack experience or skills, short film festivals can offer the necessary stepping stone.

The Luma Lu Film Festival kicked off earlier this month in Beijing and is the brainchild of UK native Gareth Repton. He moved to Beijing a year ago, bringing with him seven years of film industry experience. He worked in post-production on the Zhang Yimou film The Flowers of War (2011) and on Hollywood blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).

"I have been working for many years in Europe and Asia as a compositing artist on films, but with that you're usually doing the end process, which leaves a void in creativity. Starting this film festival has given me the freedom to express my creativity and has allowed me to teach the skills I have to other people," Repton told Metro Beijing.

The festival functions as a workshop for those who want to learn about filmmaking. Everyone who participates is given a LomoKino camera with the challenge of making a short film about life in Qianmen's Dashilan Hutong.

"We want to see how people can help bridge the gap between local residents and the community to share the memories and lost stories of the hutong," Repton explained, adding the festival is also for people to have fun, meet like-minded artists and "push the boundaries of experimental filmmaking."

Repton decided to use Lomo cameras because of their analog features. He said he was drawn to the idea by its simplicity technology-wise.

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