Squattertown: A Dim Sum Western Comes to Hong Kong
Forget spaghetti westerns—Italian movies from the 1960s are for film majors with moustaches. Instead, we’re headed to Asia, back to another classic stomping ground of film: Hong Kong. It’s all about the dim sum western now.
This time around, however, the moviemaking isn’t up to the big studios.
Director Marco Sparmberg and digital media expert Juergen Hoehbarth are now proving that, even in a place with such an entrenched studio culture as Hong Kong, a grassroots project can succeed. Their new web series, “SQUATTERTOWN,” boasts high production values, socially conscientious storytelling, and new media engagement. It’s a fully crowdsourced and crowdfunded project that sought investors on collaborative fundraising platforms such as Indiegogo beginning in August 2010. Now, the fruits of that toil are about to be shown.
“SQUATTERTOWN” is said to be a “gripping apocalyptic story” that will draw on the aesthetic style of Spaghetti Westerns and Hong Kong action films from the 1980s. According to the creators, the film is “[s]et within the unique rooftop squatter housing structures of Hong Kong [and] will also tackle a severe local social issue: the gradual disappearance of a very own culture, hidden in the dark for decades.”
The series is particularly interesting in that the problems of urban renewal it sought to highlight put the production itself in peril. Some shooting locations were already deemed inaccessible and slated to be demolished, putting Sparmberg’s new media efforts to gather buzz and funding to the test. In Sparmberg’s own words:
This phenomenon has to be dealt with by the most modern mass media tools available otherwise it will vanish even before we can communicate and translate it to a broad global audience.
Thankfully, the entire series is now available on YouTube. We’ve embedded the trailer and the first season (four webisodes in total) for your enjoyment:
Webisode 1: “1st Man Down”
Webisode 2: “Smoke”
Webisode 3: “Redemption”
Webisode 4: “Bridge City”
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TAGS: crowdsourcing • Dim Sum Western • Hong Kong movies • Hong Kong Trash • Hong Kong urban renewal • independent film • Juergen Hoehbarth • Marco Sparmberg • Squattertown • web series
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