Hooligan Sparrow

Nanfu Wang

Courageous documentary by young Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang. Armed with her camera, she follows a group of activists under the guidance of Ye Haiyan (Hooligan Sparrow) during their protests against impunity surrounding a sex scandal. Her critical attitude soon makes Sparrow an enemy of the state and the government does everything it can to silence her.

Ye Haiyan became famous as an activist by addressing the living conditions in Chinese brothels in a very controversial way. She spent some time voluntarily working as a prostitute in a brothel and documented the deplorable working conditions there of the mostly poor women from rural areas. Besides her nickname of ‘Hooligan Sparrow’, it also gained her a great deal of online attention, as well as the attention of the authorities.

Fascinated by Ye’s work, filmmaker Nanfu Wang decides to visit her during a new protest campaign. Accompanied by a human rights lawyer and a group of activists, Sparrow demands attention for a shocking sex scandal in which a school headmaster sexually molested six underage girls in a hotel. However, the man was acquitted because he had supposedly paid the girls for their services.

The protest actions by Sparrow and her gang go viral: posts on the Internet are shared by thousands of followers, including artist Ai Weiwei. Soon the activists aren’t safe anywhere and have to deal with interrogations, arrests and police brutality on a daily basis.


Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang
Country of production
China, United States
84 minutes
Spoken language
Chinese (Cantonese), English
Production company
Little Horse Crossing River Inc.