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WE WERE SMART [Sha Ma Te, Wo Ai Ni]

WE WERE SMART [Sha Ma Te, Wo Ai Ni]

  • Directed by Yifan Li
  • Starring Yifan Li
  • 2019 | 125mins | China | (18)

The Chinese word shamate (杀马特, written in the film as SMART) is a homophonic appropriation of the English term “smart”. This word started appearing on the Chinese internet in the 2000s, referring to fashions associated with migrant workers in large cities. These fashions soon became an online group identity recognised by migrant workers themselves. We Were SMART explores the lives of those associated with SMART—primarily young factory workers—through conversations with, and footage shot by, them. The film shows how the digital world created a safe space for self-expression and community bonding for this fascinating, under-explored sub-culture.


This screening is part of China Week, an annual, week-long series of events on China’s Digital Revolution, running from the 17th to the 21st of October, presented by King’s College London’s Lau China Institute.