We Are Equal

Through research and interviews with five mothers of autistic children, the goal of this production is to reveal the existence of discrimination against people with disabilities (PWD). This work demonstrates the physical and emotional suffering that PWDs and their family members endure, drawing attention to the issue of discrimination in society and providing an opportunity for families to share their stories and feelings, with the hope of changing the public's mindset towards PWDs.

  • Nancy Ma
  • Nancy Ma
  • Nancy Ma
  • Elena Lau
    Key Cast
    "Elena Lau"
  • Jennifer Chan
    Key Cast
    "Jennifer Chan"
  • Syliva Leung
    Key Cast
    "Syliva Leung"
  • Ping Mu
    Key Cast
    "Ping Mu"
  • Ivy Lau
    Key Cast
    "Ivy Lau"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 15, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Yue Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Univesity of Sydney
Director Biography - Nancy Ma

Born in Hong Kong and currently residing in Australia, Nancy Ma possesses a unique blend of professional expertise in management and creativity, setting her apart as an exceptional film producer, director, and screenwriter.

As the director of a leading multicultural marketing company, Nancy showcased remarkable administrative and managerial skills as a team builder and personnel motivator. She takes charge of strategic planning, budgeting, project launches, and promotional activities while maintaining strong connections with media and government entities.

Nancy's creativity shines through her work as a Chinese writer, copy/scriptwriter, and Chinese/English translator. With diverse experience working with creative and production teams, Nancy excels from pre-production to post-production including using programs like Ps, Pr, Ae and Ai, among others. Her extensive travel experience across the world has enabled her to connect with a wide range of people, lives, and culture, making her storytelling more realistic and down to earth. Notably, her imminent completion of a Master's in Moving Image adds an extra layer of distinction to her profile within the film industry.

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Director Statement

It has been my long-time desire to create a documentary about the mothers of the CPA (Chinese Parents Association – Children with Disabilities). I aim to publicly showcase their tireless efforts in raising their children with disabilities (PWD - People with Disabilities). What drove me to finally take action was a recent accusation against a family with a PWD in a WhatsApp group chat, suggesting it was inappropriate to bring an autistic child to a park excursion. I fear that such accusations may lead parents to hesitate taking their PWD children out and diminish their confidence in improving their children's quality of life. Additionally, organizations may refuse PWDs' participation in their activities to minimize complaints from members, which could further strengthen discrimination against PWDs.

I was given only two hours' notice to interview people at the weekend PWD activity center. Providing background information about my project, I interviewed five mothers. I selected them not only because they happened to be at the center but also for the following reasons: Firstly, I have observed more mothers than fathers participating in CPA meetings, and the great majority of active committee members in CPA are mothers. Secondly, I have witnessed the efforts that mothers contribute to PWD children in CPA events and activities. Thirdly, almost all of my artwork tells women's stories and deals with issues of inequality, so I decided to continue these themes in my work.

Even though I could only conduct my interviews within a short time frame and in a public area within the community center, it worked in my favor. I was able to provide the mothers with a familiar and casual environment in which to feel at ease, something a studio setting can't provide. Additionally, as they didn't have time to prepare, it meant that they could respond to my questions in a free-flowing manner, allowing their emotions to surface more easily. This made the interviews more lively and authentic, compensating for the aforementioned limitations. In the interviews, we see Ah Ping keeping a smile on her face but trying hard to hold back tears in her eyes. However, Ivy broke down crying during the interview as she finally found a way to release her long-standing pressure.

Their archived photos were used as B-roll, not only to strengthen their stories but also to reveal how the lives of these beautiful young women changed as they lost their youthfulness while dealing with everyday challenges in looking after their children and family issues.

My motive for having PWDs and parents sing 'We Are The World' was to engage them to stand strong in their lives and support each other.

I shot with an orange-blue color scheme as it's more suitable for Chinese skin tones. I used vibrant colors to connect the children's photos and to signify 'nurturing' and 'full of life,' as well as in the footage transitions to express my wish for a brighter future for them. I shot in 4K; the high resolution allowed me to enlarge the image in clips without losing quality. However, this came at the expense of a longer editing time. My underestimation of the time required for post-production was the biggest challenge for me; it took almost 300 hours.