Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rehab to re-take: Shanghai doctor makes films on medical themes

Dr Sun works in rehabilitation medicine but makes movies about health, society and personal relations
by Wang Yizhou
Sun Xudong is a busy and committed film director and scriptwriter. But he is a long way from Hollywood. By day Sun is a doctor in the rehabilitation department of the Shanghai Shunchang Hospital, a public hospital that specializes in aged care in the city's Huangpu district.

At night, in his spare time and over weekends he is a director. He doesn't make films with car chases, guns being fired, impossible heroes and sexy women. His latest film is called Baby, Sorry and is about how a young man saves a child's life by donating stem cells to help her fight cancer. But he only does this after persuading his parents that this will not harm him personally and will help the little girl. The film is one of the new breeds of microfilm and will be screened online probably in January when it is completed and will then be accessible on a range of Internet portals. 
It is also based on true stories that director Sun became involved with. Zhang Yujia was a bright and happy 5-year-old girl who suddenly and inexplicably collapsed one day at her kindergarten. Tests revealed she was suffering from leukemia. 
She was given chemotherapy but her condition worsened until a stem cell donor was found in another city. This young man was willing to provide the stem cells needed to save the girl's life but first he and the doctors had to persuade his traditionally-minded and over-protective parents that this was a good and safe thing to do.
In reality, the girl received the treatment and recovered. Sun's film, however, has a bleaker ending inspired by another case where parents had forbidden a son to transplant stem cells and a child died for lack of treatment.
"For the film I was inspired by the son of one of my teachers. The boy died of the disease because the man whose stem cells matched and who could have saved him could not convince his parents to allow the transplant," Sun said.
The making of Baby, Sorry started in November and Sun and his team - office workers by day and filmmakers by night - have been deeply involved in all aspects of the shoot since then. They are united in the belief that it is important to make the film to try to raise public awareness of the facts about stem cell donations.
The Shanghai born 29-year-old Sun has been helping other people for many years now and uses his position as secretary of the Youth League Committee at the hospital to promote good public health care. 
As a middle school student he used to occasionally visit nursing homes to play chess with some of the elderly residents. His visits became regular and he began helping tidy the rooms or bring the elderly fruit. "I felt happy because they had so much to tell me and so much wisdom to share," he said.
Since then he has been active in many different ways but usually winding up helping others. He was fond of reading and theater and at university set up a literature club and a drama club. The drama club became a success and he persuaded members to give performances in nursing homes and cancer patient rehabilitation centers. 
Last year Sun established a photography club with friends and colleagues and then proposed something different. "Making homemade music videos is growing in popularity on the Internet, so why don't we help those who cannot make them?" he asked. 
He and other members advertised on bulletin boards in universities and eventually helped dozens of people make their own music videos. "Everyone has his or her own little dream and I am glad to be the one that help them realize this," Sun said.
Based on the success of the music video, he decided to try making longer more involved films, a proposal that won support from his friends. With little experience in the field, he did his own research and formed a team of 15 who became actors, directors, cameramen, producers and technical staff and they made their first film in March, a microfilm about environmental concerns that appeared on the Internet. In May there was another film about a young man's journey seeking a mysterious girl who had helped him years beforehand and in August the team made a film about a doctor who gave up the chance of a prestigious award and left his pregnant wife at home in Shanghai while he rushed to Sichuan to help victims of the earthquake there.

Read more: Global Times

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