Third Hong Kong former schoolgirl says she was ‘misled’ over controversial documentary that spanned 10 years in the lives of 6 pupils

“They had never told me the details of what happened so I had always thought the movie received good reviews and everything was going smoothly,” Kong said.

She agreed that if what Ah Ling said was true, the director and her school should never have given the film a general release.

“One should not build his or her happiness on others’ pain,” Kong wrote.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and the Education Bureau said they had contacted the school to follow up on the incident.

The documentary, which premiered last Thursday, followed the pupils for 10 years from Form One to after graduation and showed intimate moments in their personal and school lives, as well as interviews with family members.

Cheung, a former Ying Wa pupil, was invited to create the film as part of fundraising efforts for reconstruction of the school.

The controversy erupted after Ah Ling wrote to newspaper Ming Pao Weekly to complain that she had never given permission for the film to be shown in public.

She outlined how her attempts to stop the film’s release were rejected by the school and the production crew.

Britney Shear, who also played a major role in the production, later said that she had once objected to the public screening, but was persuaded by the crew to change her mind.

A Form One pupil at Ying Wa on Monday, who gave her name as Yue-er, said she had noticed the dispute over the documentary on social media at the weekend.

“I feel like school is disrespectful to the student’s privacy, and this is not OK,” she said. “If this happened to me, I would feel very uncomfortable.”

But a 40-year-old mother, who said her surname was Ng, said the row was a “contract issue” and would not influence her view of the elite school or spark concerns for her children.

Ah Ling said in her letter she had never read the consent form signed by her parents in 2012 and that the school showed it to her for the first time when she opposed submission of the documentary to a 2022 film festival.

The consent form, shown in the Ming Pao Weekly article, allowed the school to use the documentary “in any manner now existing or invented in the future in or outside of Hong Kong for publication, screening, broadcast, public access or otherwise”.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung told the Post that once the parents had signed the form on their child’s behalf, they had given written consent, which was legally binding.

He said parents were asked to sign the forms because the girls had not reached the legal age and explained the forms could not be invalidated now on the grounds the pupils were too young or did not understand the terms.

But Luk urged the director and those involved to hold discussions and come up with a solution satisfactory to everyone to avoid the need for legal action.

“The students also had mentioned that the school had told them that the documentary would only be shown internally, which was counter to the terms of the form,” he said.

“If this case was to go to court, the judge may look at whether there were conflicts between the verbal promise and the consent form and which should be trusted.”

Additional reporting by Ziwen Zhao


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