'Ways of Water' Earth Month Program: 'Ballad on the Shore' Screening

Ballad on the Shore
2017 / 98 minutes
Directed by Chi-hang Ma
Cantonese, Tanka with Chinese and English subtitle

On the small isle of Tap Mun, Hong Kong, veteran fishermen sing ballads with pitches and tones that alternate and repeat themselves as if they were synchronising with the ocean waves. But as fewer and fewer know the harsh life at sea, these ballads are being forgotten by new generations. This film documents the fisherman’s way of life, and these unique songs – both on the verge of disappearing.

Director Chi-hang Ma will take part in a Q&A after the screening.



The story of Hong Kong begins with water. The significance of water to the city is inherent in its etymology, i.e. Fragrant Harbor, and while Hong Kong is no longer a humble fishing village, water remains a defining characteristic of the high-density metropolitan city. Water surrounds us, separates us, seeps through us all at once, playing a fundamental and indispensable role in our daily lives.

For Earth Month this year, we’ll shift our focus towards our city’s waterways, both obvious and obscure, that not only buoy our sustenance, but also dictate or inform the ways we navigate space and leisure. We’ll take a deeper look at the flora and fauna—which include ourselves—that face threats in these aquatic ecosystems, and learn to appreciate their relationships with each other.

From the very real, prevalent existential hazards and threats to coral reefs, to the mythological phenomena and cultural traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation, Ways of Water aims to dive into the complex histories and sciences of our oceans, as we learn more about local fishing communities, pearl conservation, and freshwater wetlands through a series of screenings, workshops, installations, exhibitions , performances and more.