International Competition

Hooligan Sparrow

Nanfu Wang
Screening time  
01.03. / Wednesday, 13:00 - 15:00 Theatre 2  
03.03. / Friday, 18:00 - 20:00 Theatre 4  
04.03. / Saturday, 16:00 - 18:00 Theatre 1  
A young filmmaker follows maverick activist to protest. As they were marked as enemies of the state they became targets.

The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media. Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able to tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary.


Nanfu Wang

Nanfu Wang is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. She has three master’s degrees from Shanghai University, Ohio University, and New York University in English Literature, Media Studies, and Documentary. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow (2016), screened at 2017 ZagrebDox, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for best documentary feature and it has won over twenty international awards. Wang was honored by the International Documentary Association with the 2016 Emerging Filmmaker Award. Among her latest documentaries are One Child Nation(2019), Out of Many, One (2018), I Am Another You (2017).

General sponsor

Hooligan Sparrow

2016, 84'

Directed by:
Nanfu Wang

Screenplay by:
Nanfu Wang

Nanfu Wang

Edited by:
Nanfu Wang

Nathan Halpern

Nanfu Wang

Produced by:
Little Horse Crossing the River

Festivals & Awards:

Tim Hetherington Award – Special Mention, Movies that Matter Film Festival 2016 – The Golden Butterfly for Best Film, Stockholm Film Festival 2016 – Bronze Horse for Best Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival 2016 – In Spirit for Freedom Award Best Documentary, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival 2016 – Nestor Almendros Award, Dallas International Film Festival 2016 – Silver Heart Award, One World Film Festival 2016 – Special Mention, Cinema Eye Honors Awards 2017 – Cinema Eye Honors Award, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights 2016 – Young Jury Award, Nashville Film Festival 2016 – Special Jury Prize, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2016 – Les Blank Award for Feature Length Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2016, Hot Docs 2016, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2016, Independent Spirit Awards 2017