Master Classes with Oscar Documentarians 2018

Instructed by renowned cinematographer Kirsten Johnson and renowned editor Mary Stephen, master classes in documentary cinematography and editing will be held on 3 and 4 February; and 7 to 11 February. We will also featuring a series of public events on February 2, 6, 7 and 8. Please scroll down for more details.


Friday 2 February

Screening of Cameraperson (2016) and Q&A with Kirsten Johnson

Exposing her role behind the camera, Kirsten Johnson reaches into the vast trove of footage she has shot over decades around the world. What emerges is a visually bold memoir and a revelatory interrogation of the power of the camera.

Speaker: Kirsten Johnson
Moderator: Nancy Tong

Studio Room 303, Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre, HKU

Tuesday 6 February

Women Make Docs – a Symposium by Oscar Documentarians

Featuring four award-winning women filmmakers who will share their filmmaking experience across North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Speakers: Kirsten Johnson, Mary Stephen
Moderators: Ruby Yang, Nancy Tong

Yuet Ming Auditorium, Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre, HKU

Wednesday 7 February

Special Lecture by Mary Stephen: Thinking outside the box: different techniques in documentary editing ?

In making documentaries, there is often a huge volume of footage to deal with and no script to work from. Editing skills are therefore particularly important. Mary Stephen will share her extensive body of work to illustrate techniques in documentary editing.

Studio Room 303, Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre, HKU

Thursday 8 February

Screening of The Apology (2016) and Q&A with Mary Stephen

The Apology explores the lives of former “comfort women”, the more than 200,000 girls forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Today, they fight for reconciliation and justice as they struggle to make peace with the past. The film’s editor Mary Stephen will join the post-screening Q&A.

Studio Room 303, Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre, HKU


Cinematography with Kirsten Johnson

Kirsten Johnson works as a cinematographer and director. Her most recent work Cameraperson (2016) has been shortlisted for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017. She has won multiple awards and is known for her work as a cinematographer on awarding winning documentaries including Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), The Oath (2010) and Citizenfour (2014).

Kirsten will speak about visual language, the relationship between camerapeople and subjects, as well as the relationship between camerapeople and directors at the workshop.

Kirsten Johnson graduated from Brown University in 1987, with a BA in Fine Arts and Literature. After two years in West Africa working on local fiction and documentary film projects, she attended La F mis (French National Film School) and studied cinematography.

She has a longstanding collaboration with Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, credited as cinematographer for The Oath, Citizenfour, the upcoming Asylum.

Kirsten Johnson shared the 2010 Sundance Documentary Competition Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for The Oath. She shot the Tribeca Film Festival 2008 Documentary winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

When not shooting she teaches at the New York University Graduate Journalism Department and at School of Visual Arts and often leads workshops for young camerapeople and documentarians in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

More about the Oscar documentarian at IMDb

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday (3 & 4 February 2018) 9:30am to 5pm

*Conducted in English

CLASS SIZE: 20- 25 participants

LOCATION: The Studio, G/F Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong

Editing with Mary Stephen

Mary Stephen works as an editor and director. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2016. She was an editor and co-composer for the French New Wave director ric Rohmer. She was nominated for Golden Horse Film Festival’s Best Film Editing for her work in Our Time Will Come (2017) and Outstanding Achievement in Editing at Cinema Eye Honors Awards in US for her work in Last Train Home (2009).

Mary will speak about “Structuring and Enhancing Storytelling in a Documentary” and will provide hands-on experience to participants on how to transform their on-going projects at the workshop.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mary Stephen studied Communication Arts in Montreal, Canada. She started making and editing her own films before making the acquaintance of French New Wave director ric Rohmer. Since the 1980s, she has been living in Paris.

Mary Stephen s recent editing documentaries include Two on the Road (2016), A Young Patriot (2015), China Me (2014). She has worked as editor on numerous mainland Chinese and Hong Kong productions, including Li Yang’s Blind Mountain (2007), Fan Lixin’s documentary Last Train Home (2009) and Jessey Tsang’s documentary Flowing Stories (2014).

She has lead seminars and workshops at various institutions such as La F mis (French National Film School) in Paris, and the Canadian Film Center in Toronto. In 2016, she was invited to be the Artist-in-Residence at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

More about the Oscar documentarian at Hong Kong Women Filmmakers

Up to 6 selected projects among the participants will be assigned to one of the AM (9:30am-1pm) or PM (2-5:30pm) sessions from Wednesday to Friday (7-9 February 2018) and the morning of Saturday (10 February 2018).
Saturday (10 February 2018) PM: Off for final edit before screening
Sunday (11 February 2018) 9:30am-5:30pm: Project screenings and feedback

*Conducted in English

CLASS SIZE: 10- 15 participants
*Up to 6 documentary projects among the applicants will be selected for the individual sessions. All participants are encouraged to join in all the sessions to observe how projects are being transformed.

LOCATION: The Studio, G/F Eliot Hall, The University of Hong Kong


Independent filmmakers with documentary making experience;
Journalists with multiplatform projects that include a documentary film;
Graduates or final year students from film schools;
Professional cinematographers and editors who would like to improve storytelling skills in documentary.

Women, minorities and those from underrepresented communities are encouraged to apply.


HK$1000 for each workshop.
Refundable for full-time students or participants with a monthly salary lower than HK$15,000. Salary proof and valid full-time student identification have to be submitted together with application. Full refunds will be given after attending the workshop and two of the events on February 2, 6, 7 or 8. Please scroll down for the details in the ?Events ? section.


Interested applicants should fill in the online application with up to 3 of your best work as portfolio.

For Master Class with Mary Stephen in editing, applicants have to submit visual materials and written description of their ongoing projects, which shall include:

  • Part of a rough cut or some selected clips of the ongoing project (up to 15 minutes)
  • Story summary, synopsis and motivation (approximately 1-2 pages)
  • Artistic approach / treatment / unique feature (approximately 0.5 page)
  • Project stage (approximately 0.5 page)

*Applicants might be interviewed by phone.

All materials must be submitted by Sunday 14 January 2018.

FOR ENQUIRIES, please contact Catherine Chan at