Doctor's call for Chinese student's 'remarkable' documentary
Released: Friday 6th July 2012 at 15:27
A DOCUMENTARY charting a man’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and directed by a Chinese student has attracted the attention of Sunderland health specialists.
Despite only arriving at the University of Sunderland six months ago and only speaking limited English, Jean (Qiong) Qin who is studying media production, asked media technician Charles Cuppage, who has MS, to be become the subject of a documentary to develop a wider understanding of the debilitating neurological condition.
The 10-minute film, called ‘Charles’, was produced by Jean with the help of fellow students, and looks at the dramatic changes to the 38-year-old’s life, from a fit and healthy man eight years ago, to being confined to a wheelchair, in constant pain and dependent on medication.
The university project has not only impressed her tutor Shafik Obrai, himself an award-winning documentary maker, but attracted the attention of Dr Uma Nath, a consultant neurologist at Sunderland Royal Hospital, who has commissioned ‘Charles’ to be used as a teaching tool for medical students.
Jean and her team were also invited to showcase the documentary at a “learning and sharing event” about care of people with long term neurological conditions in Durham, where they spoke to medical staff about the project.
Jean, 23, who is studying for a Masters, said: “Before I arrived at the university six months ago, I was still learning to speak English and had never produced a documentary, so it’s been a challenge but I’m really proud of what we have achieved and amazed at the response.
“Charles is a lovely man and has been fantastic with all the students involved, and when we found about his MS and saw footage of his own autobiographical video diary, we thought it was a good idea to highlight his battle with the disease.”
The documentary follows Charles through his working day, at home, as well as going about his daily tasks. He also talks openly about life before developing MS, his frustrations, the breakdown of his marriage and having to give up playing his beloved guitar.
“I am very impressed with the work the students have produced,” said Charles, who originates from the Lake District and is living in Sunderland.
“The project came about after I made an autographical video diary for myself to learn more about some new editing software we were using in the department, it seemed the easiest way to learn about the technology. However, I did not have the dramatic capabilities to do something remarkable in the video, and it was after Shafik played it to the students that they got involved wanted to produce something even better.
“I hope what this documentary achieves is an understanding of this disease. I know MS can get worse, but all I can hope for now is that it stays the same for me, as it won’t get any better, it’s just the way disease is.”
Shafik, a senior lecturer at the university’s Media Centre, said: “It really is remarkable what these students have achieved in such a short space of time. We’ve all been so impressed by their professionalism and what they produced - a powerful but simple story about a man living with MS, told in the most honest way. It’s beautifully shot and beautifully edited.
“This was produced as a second year undergraduate module in documentary, something these students had never done before.”
Dr Nath added: “These students have dramatically improved their understanding of this disease and the quality of work is phenomenal
“The documentary is important in terms of raising awareness of long term impact of neurological conditions, it’s exactly the message we want to get across. We need on-going campaigning on neurological needs and I will be using this documentary as teaching tool specifically for my medical students, and later with GPs.”
Washington-based GP, Dr Ashley Liston, linked the students up with Dr Nath, after meeting them through The Globe @ Sunderland, International Student Café, at Sunderland Free Church, where he was shown their documentary.
He said: “It’s an incredible piece of filming and I thought there was a potential for teaching purposes and raising awareness about MS. The students have also been recruited to do further work as a result, which is great news.
“The documentary is just right for teaching purposes as it gets straight into the issues of someone living with MS.”
Jean has now been asked to work on a documentary looking at cardiac risk in the young, as a result of the contacts she’s made through Sunderland Royal Hospital.
To view the documentary go to: http://vimeo.com/41764009