Film is a powerful form of expression; a voice that takes many forms but is at its most powerful when spoken from the heart. “Ma-eum” can mean both heart and mind, symbolising the inseparable bond between reason and emotion.

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha describes Ma-eum as a true spirit, an inherent part of a person’s soul that remains unshaken by displacement or oppression. It resides in memory and is present in every word we speak.

We have curated a selection of films that use documentary cinema as a tool to express unique voices, preserve memory against the tide of forgetting, and maintain identity in the face of colonialism and modernisation.

Our artists express themselves through imagery, speech, action, and song, whether collectively or individually, personally or publicly, intimately or boldly. They speak from the Ma-eum, the spirit-heart.

Many of our films are screening in the UK for the first time. Our programme includes shorts, artist films, features, and audiovisual works that explore historical events in both documentary and essayistic approaches. We aim to present a chorus of voices that demonstrate cinema’s unique ability to turn the specific into the universal. Experience the resonant power of Ma-eum; a symphony of spirits and memories.

Programmed by Birkbeck, University of London, Film Programming and Curating MA Students:
Cheryl Ho
Eleanor Lu
Najrin Islam
Paul Salt
Zhiyin Du
Mentored by Ricardo Matos Cabo

It is the mark. The mark of belonging. Mark of cause. Mark of retrieval. By birth. By death. By blood. You carry the mark in your chest, in your MAH-UHM, in your MAH-UHM, in your spirit-heart.
You sing.
– Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee, 1982