I'm incredibly happy and honoured that my short documentary Down from the Mountains has won the 1st prize in the World Press Photo 2018 long form digital storytelling category. There was so much astounding, brave photography and journalism across the various categories, and DFTM is a quiet film on a small platform (ChinaFile), so I've been feeling surprised an incredibly privileged.
I really struggled with this project for a number of reasons, but particularly with the end of the edit, which I pondered for weeks, feeling that there was not enough of an emotional climax or resolution to the 'story'. In the end, I took the attitude that this is how the family's life is - complex, unresolved - and that all I could do was reflect the uncertainty of their future. The recognition from WPP, as well as the positive messages I've received from many members of the public who were touched by the family has been a lesson: to allow life to be as it is, and to not let the best be the enemy of the good. Freelance video journalism is precarious enough without having to constantly battle doubt as well as the usual difficult editors, etc.
A lot of people have asked how the family is getting on since the film, and the answer is: much better than before, but life continues to be complicated. Their mother Jiajia hasn't gone back out to work for long periods (she did leave to work on a harvest for a spell), while the family is relying on one income from their father. Wang Ying no longer has to take care of her younger siblings in the same way, and they are all in school and working to give themselves more choices than their parents had.