Ballad on the Shore

On the small isle of Tap Mun, the ocean breeze gently lifts up strands of grey hair on Lai Lin-shau’s head. He quietly sings in the characteristic tones of the fisherman’s ballads. Seemingly without rules, the pitch and tones alternate and repeat themselves as if they were synchronising with the ocean waves. Lai is one of the few people alive who knows the fisherman’s ballads intimately. None of his children experienced the harsh and unforgiving life at sea. They are not even aware of his priceless knowledge of the ballads.

As the fishing community shrinks, old fishermen found new ways of life on land. One performs and teaches the ballads to young children; another uses the ballads to spread her Christian faith. The ballads have become a spiritual harbour for these landed fishermen. But deaths come brutally. Lai loses his listeners and his memory of the ballads. A precious part of him is dying.

  • MA Chi-hang
  • FUNG Mei-wah
  • LAI Lin-shau
    Key Cast
  • CHAN Wai-yee
    Key Cast
  • HO Sai-mui
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Filming:
    Hong Kong
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 16th RAI FILM FESTIVAL 2019
    United Kingdom
    March 27, 2019
  • MOViE MOViE Festival Life is Art 2018
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    September 15, 2018
  • CIADFF (Chiayi International Art Doc Film Festival) 2018
    March 20, 2018
Distribution Information
  • MOViE MOViE Ltd. (HK)
    Country: Hong Kong
    Rights: Paid TV
Director Biography - MA Chi-hang

He receives his B.A. in Fine Arts and M.A in Philosophy from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He started up his film professions from art direction, and had closely worked with local prominent filmmakers, like Ann Hui, Adam Wong and Philip Yung. From 2008-2010, his research-based project ‘Young Hong Kong Artist Dialogue’ had interviewed over than 20 local emerging artists, pioneer of studying local art ecology via moving images.
Attributed to the trainings on art, his films have a thematic consistency on humanity and aesthetic. Short film, Women Security Guard (2015) was given Silver Award in IFVA (Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards), and it made a presence in Clermont-Ferrard Short Film Festival. Malinois Gaze (2016) was selected by Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival and Chinese Independent Film Festival.
His debut feature-length documentary film, Ballad on the Shore (2017) is widely reputed for its poetic handling on fishermen ballad, an intangible cultural heritage. This ethnographic film opens an active dialogue on the unconquerable vanishes of old cultures. The film received an extensive media coverage, screening nearly 70 times in film festivals and communities.

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Director Statement

In Hong Kong, a highly capitalized metropolis, fishermen's culture was marginalized and fading. A cultural heritage was even treated as an old people’s mumming. In search of the forgotten songs, the director reconstruct the fishermen history of Hong Kong. Throughout the old fishermen ballads, the fading memory was written, the wrinkling faces was frozen.