The young Cantonese director, CHEN Zhilin “Chilam”’s debut feature-length film captures an unspoken sense of vulnerability of Cantonese youths experience, returning to their hometowns for a break from studying abroad. The familiar homes they return to are changing—becoming more than what they remember from their last visit. Though the space is changing, moving forward, the people in those places seem trapped—stuck—living the same lives they were before.
The Little Shrimp is Chilam’s debut feature, completed as a requirement for his MFA degree earned at Emerson College. “Little Shrimp” (haa-zai), as he explained, is a name for the nameless whose identities are defined by their family and social roles”
—Mulan International Film Festival, 2019
Chen is putting an emphasis on the individual’s story in a changing society. Though buildings are being erected and lights ignite the night sky, characters seem lost, unable to catch up with the developments of their homes.
There is great potential in this young director who pays attention to the subtle, unchanging elements of a spaces that evolves.