Fish Story

EnglishHong Kong2013 / 72 min
导演:WONG Siu Pong

This documentary explores what it is like growing up in an adult world through children’s eyes.

J SHEN and Jacky WONG are good friends, inseparable since they have first met in first grade. J was born to a single-parent family in Hong Kong, raised up by his Mainland-born mother in a small subdivided unit. In order to avoid leaving J home alone, his mother sends him to homes of his classmates in times of her leave to Mainland for visa-renewing. Despite of the fact that Jacky comes from a Vietnamese family, J is often placed under his family’s care; the two turn out to become close friends.

Every morning, J and Jacky walk together to Fresh Fish Traders’ School in Tai Kok Tsui, where they attend classes. Similar images of one taking care of another are not rare to find in the exclusive community of the grassroots. In the meantime, other classmates of them share the same life, including the Mainland-born trio of Frankie TUNG, Jimmy TAM, and Kiki WONG, a young girl who enjoys particular popularity in class. Hoping for better futures for their children, parents brought them to Hong Kong where they have no choice but to live in cramped and close quarters. The sudden change of environment forces children to re-identify themselves in face of the new culture and values. Is this an investment that will ultimately prove worthwhile?

What does “family” mean to these children? How do they perceive the hopes and dreams of their parents and the expectations of society to “success”? In return, will children’s expectations to their parents and society be heard and understood by the adults?

Even though life in poor environment and condition seems to have constrained possibilities, these children still aspire to spread their wings and fly up high. The kind of vitality children own is exactly what grown-ups might no longer desire or understand. Just as remarked in an ancient Chinese classic, “How does one understand the joy of fish, if one is not a fish?” Such is the tale woven through the running time of Fish Story.

About the Director 

Born in Hong Kong in 1986, WONG Siu Pong is a graduate of Hong Kong Shue Yan University’s Department of Journalism and Communication. A visual artist, writer, and musician, WONG’s previous documentary Back on the Street was screened at the Chinese Documentary Festival 2011, receiving a Special Mention; later, it continued being screened at various independent film festivals in Mainland China. That same year, WONG received a grant from CNEX to shoot his second documentary Fish Story.

2011    Back on the Street

From the Director

To me, Fish Story is kind of an experimental piece. I carried heavy camera gear on my back every day, with tripod in one hand and water bottle in the other, and followed these children to school and through their daily lives. In time, the parents and teachers began asking why this “older man” was showing up everywhere. Over the course of filming, I was faced with question after question, to the point I couldn’t even answer them all. “Sir, are you making a documentary?” “Yes!” “But what are you filming?” “I don’t know yet, I just want to observe for a while.” “For how long?” “I don’t know.” “Are you with a TV station?” “No.” “Is this your job?” “I don’t know that I’d call it a ‘job’.” “Where will the documentary be played?” “I don’t know yet.” “So what are you doing it for?”

The story of Fish Story begins three years ago. Through my work, I had come to realize that there is a generation in Hong Kong today suffering under the pressures of family, society, and the education system. Without a strong, healthy environment to learn in during that crucial period of youth, their values and perspectives are constantly evolving as their circumstances change, and I realized this left me forlorn. That was the beginning of the concept that underpins the whole documentary project: How do the people we encounter growing up change the kind of people we become? And how does that change the kind of society we live in? With these concepts in mind, I started to film the story. 

And thus the project began with that simple idea—no protagonist, no narrative foundation, just a matter of seeing what unfolds. Of course, the process of filming was rife with shock for me, and I saw many things that I wanted to share immediately, but had to bide my time and bite my tongue. Ultimately, what I want to say is that while I may not have fully shown the problems people are concerned about, while I may not have offered any answers to the questions posed, I believe that this way, we can make the lives of these children better. If in this documentary you see issues that you want to explore more deeply, then I thank you. If you just like watching them laugh and cry, then I thank you. If the film reminds you of your own childhood playmates and the times you had, both good and bad, then I thank you, too.

Through this film, we may still understand “the joy of fish”.


 Film Festival


※ The 10th Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, NEW TALENT AWARD, 2013

※ The 8th First International Film Festival, Best Documentary, 2014

※ The 4th Festival de film Écrans De Chine, AWARD SEGALEN FOUNDATION , 2014

※ The 5th Dalian Art Film Festival, 2014

※ Sichuan TV Festival, 2014

※ China Independent Film Festival CIFF, 2014

※ The 20th Chinese Top10 Best TV Documentary Festival, Top10 Best Length.