By VIVIENNE WONG
WHAT started out as a Global Perspectives class project, eventually became Alyssa Choo’s ticket to the 2014 THIMUN Qatar Northwestern University Film Competition after the 15-year-old Malaysian student – studying in Singapore’s United World College Of South East Asia – discovered that her video, The Technological Trail, was nominated alongside four other finalists from around the world for Best Picture in the junior category.
The Technological Trail is a five-minute video comprising interviews conducted with her teachers on the subject and features some footage of this unhealthy culture. Let’s be honest, most people seem to be plugged into their phones even when they are out with friends or family.
“I felt really inspired by how technology is affecting people’s relationships with each other. Everyone is so immersed in their phones or laptops that they’re forgetting the real connection and human relationship that come from face-to-face conversation,” she said. “If your phone rings midway through a conversation, it just disrupts the whole atmosphere and stops the conversation. That was when it really hit me.”
By addressing an issue that is clearly happening all over the world, her Global Perspectives’ teacher, Debra McWhirter encouraged her to submit her film to the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival in December last year. Then, on the morning of March 24, Choo got that fateful e-mail on her nomination.
However, things are about to get even more exciting for Choo, who will be jetting off to Doha with her parents for the three-day Qatar Film Festival, which runs from April 17-19. Before the winners are announced though, screen writing and camera demo workshops will be conducted at the Northwestern University Studios, and participants will get the opportunity to tour the Al Jazeera studio and meet the staff there, making this a holistic experience.
Then, all festival participants will face the challenge of producing a 60-90 second trailer video on a documentary for Al Jazeera. And Choo, who aspires to be a broadcast journalist, is ready and thrilled to be experiencing it all.
“This (The Technological Trail) is the first film I’ve actually made properly and I’m quite proud of it, so I’m excited to be going to Doha to showcase my work and to spread the message of the film,” she said.
“But I think the thing I’m most excited about is getting to know the Al Jazeera crew and the people who work there, just to get a better understanding of what they do at work everyday, how the journalism world operates and what it’s like inside the studio.”
Such hands-on experience would be really beneficial for Choo as her upcoming plans also involve taking up the International Baccalaureate next year and then heading off to the United States to further her studies in English Literature and History, hopefully in one of the Ivy League schools in New York.
When asked which journalist she looks up to, she replied: “I really like Anderson Cooper. Not only is he a renowned broadcast journalist, but he also goes out of the way to get stories from around the world. I really like how he tackles and recognises all the different perspectives on an issue. He always challenges biases.”
Choo might just be making baby steps at the moment, but it at least looks like she will be having an experience of a lifetime in Doha.