Series: Cities by the Sea

Hong Kong


A film by Sebastian Lindemann
© 2015 / 43 min (dt.) / 52 min (eng.) / HD / 16:9 / Stereo

Hong Kong, it's said, is the fastest city in the world because it is constantly reinventing itself. Once a fishing village on the southern coast of China, it developed into a mega metropolis many years ago. Under British colonial rule for over 150 years, trade brought the city prosperity and growth. People who live in Hong Kong shouldn't be afraid of confined spaces. Acute lack of space is the main problem for the city's 7 million inhabitants. Only the very rich can afford the expensive accommodation. The film portrays people who are shaped by Hong Kong and who themselves have helped shape the city.

People who are successful are treated like pop stars in Hong Kong. Yen Siu is a tutor and an idol for young people. Using textbooks that he wrote himself, he teaches hundreds of pupils Chinese every evening. Private tutoring has become a booming business in Hong Kong. Students who get good grades can hope for a successful future and prosperity. The law allows for only 45 pupils per classroom, but Yuen came up with a clever trick: in glass rooms pupils follow his lessons via a live projection. Private tutors earn up to € 100,000 a month.

If you want to see the sky in Hong Kong, you have to crane your head right back into your neck. 700 high-rise buildings crowd the "vertical city" – a world record. Wing Hing Lo is one of the city's "flying scaffolders" who build bamboo structures at heights of over 100 m when small repairs have to be carried out on the walls of a building. The technique of building bamboo scaffolding has changed little over the past 2000 years. Bamboo is an ideal material; it is light, and thanks to its elasticity, can withstand even a typhoon. Wing Hing fastens the rods with nylon straps, which are wound around the bamboo – no knots needed.

In the middle of hectic Hong Kong, Jacky Wong has created a haven of peace. In a Taoist temple in the centre of the city, the 19-year-old practices the 1500-year-old art of kung fu. Jacky Wong often trains until past midnight. Most people still associate kung fu with the films of martial art icon Bruce Lee. But the true aim of kung fu is to achieve spiritual and physical fulfilment, and the art embraces very different disciplines. In recent years, Hong Kong's kung fu schools have gained in popularity. Traditional values are becoming more and more important. People hope kung fu will help them cope with the pressures of their achievement-oriented society.



Buch und Regie: Sebastian Lindemann
Kamera: Axel Schneppat
Schnitt: Verena Schönauer
Ton: Rainer Hirsch
Musik: Nils Kacirek, Milan Meyer-Kaya
Tonmischung: Tomas Bastian
Aufnahmeleitung: Ming Yee Cheung
Produktionsleitung: Kerstin Horner
Producer: Eva Rink
Produzent: Thomas Wartmann
Redaktion: Christian Cools, ARTE
Ulrike Becker, SWR
Ute Hoffarth, SWR

Eine Koproduktion von Filmquadrat.dok GmbH und ARTE in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Südwestrundfunk.

Mit Unterstützung von Creative Europe. 


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