Once Upon a Rooftop

2010, Society  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 8.82/10 from 88 users.

Once Upon a Rooftop examines the lives of families and individuals from a span of generations who live above the rooftops in Hong Kong. Students, former soldiers, mothers, fathers, and young children, are all profiled for this documentary. Their lives turn out to be the sort that people all over the world are living, no matter if their place of residence is above or below the top of a high-rise building. Their lives are full of hopes, doubts, coming to terms, and facing new days as well as all of the secrets those days may come along with.

While in the middle of this living, life goes on, families grow, and cycles are repeated, sometimes even ended as time goes on. A simple yet poignant film, Once Upon a Rooftop beautifully explores our desires in the context of the way they change and are influenced by the world around us as we discover how different life can be, and often enough is, for others. The end is the sort you never see coming, and while the film is put together in such a way that it ends exactly as and when it should, it's hard not to feel blindsided by the information you receive as a part of the film's audience at the very end.

Sleeping on the floor of a one room sheet metal shack that seems almost glued to the top of a dangerously high rooftop is quite the way to gain your perspective on the world. When symbolic life contrasts like sleeping on the floor and seeing spiders and lizards crawl around you at night, while waking up with an option to run in the open air and see butterflies all around you become your reality, living on a rooftop shack seems almost like an experience worth looking back on fondly, especially if you look back from a great distance, a distance forged through your efforts and reach towards something better for yourself.

Don't expect each person you hear to be able to speak from this distance though. While some haven't had quit enough time, others are looking at the last pages of what is set to be their final chapter and their doing it from their rooftop homes.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Anton

    Hong Kong is a rich city, poor city. A true paradox.

  2. Nasir

    Destroyed their homes without any sense of what effect that would have on the families...
    no empathy
    no compassion
    no remorse.
    Nobody should ever be allowed to destroy a home. A home is more than a roof to stay under, it is someone's place of comfort and security.

    1. Anton

      Look up "Kowloon Walled City" then tell us what you think about no home being torn down.

  3. SB

    A really watchable and un-judgemental look at one of Hong Kong's hidden quirks.

  4. Fiona Cole

    I would really be interested to know if the young girl became a Doctor! Also how all the other children are doing. The old man! What a fantastic character, has inspired me to put my trainers on. Really interesting watch. Thank you.

  5. aswarp

    This situation is the rule more than the exception. I have seen this all over China. Not only in rooftops, also within all 70 floors down to the ground, where apartments get split into separate households for each room. Except for the toilet. Most of the times.

    1. Anton

      yeh, saw this last year in causeway bay when I went to visit and old friend. The apartment had been divided into 3 rooms, each renting for 10,000 hkd a month. Crazy!

  6. lai

    Where are they now?Did they get resettled somewhere?

    1. Gretel

      I think they are still there. House problem in Hongkong is getting even worse now.