Month: January 2018

My thoughts on moving forwards from #metoo

#MeToo in 2017

2017 finally exposed the behind the scenes activities of Harvey Weinstein and his cronies publicly  As a woman working in the film industry everyone has been asking if I had a “Harvey story.”  Of course I did,  and  others…

When #metoo hit the headlines last year,  I was so pleased that we’ve finally admitted the problem exists.  But now how to use the #metoo movement to generate something positive from something so negative? I started reflecting on how 2017 was a really powerful year for me in terms of empowering other women…

In October 2017 my feature documentary The Helper  thrust the women of Hong Kong’s migrant domestic worker population into the spotlight and for the first time really highlighted both their potential and achievements under the most challenging circumstances.  The response to the film has been overwhelming! Since we premiered in October my inboxes are constantly full of incredible messages of kindness and support for the film and the women we feature in it.  We’ve changed lives with the generosity and opportunities this exposure has brought and that’s been very powerful to watch. I’ve also learnt a lot from it.


1) Shine a light

The power of this spotlight has made me realize that we need to do that for each other more!   Beyond featuring as many awesome women as possible in my filmed work, I’m now resolved to make an even more conscious effort to promote and praise women that I know or discover.  Sharing someone’s social posting might seem like a really small action, but my hope is that the more we raise each other up in little ways, that effect will slowly amplify.

Joanna Bowers with stars of The Helper Nurul and Leila
One of the stars of The Helper documentary Leila (left) was given a full scholarship to one of Hong Kong’s best pre-schools as a result of her story’s visibility in the film. I was then able to help the school to fill 8 more available spots it had for children of asylum seekers by connecting them to Pathfinders and Justice Centre.

2) Recommend each other

Similar to shining a light – take the action to recommend a woman you know.  Whether this is in response to a specific request, or simply shooting over someone awesome’s work or resume to someone they might be a fit for at some point. It strengthens networks and increases potential.

Liza Avelino on stage at Tedx TinHau Women
Another star of The Helper documentary –  Liza Avelino enthralled the audience with her story on stage at Tedx Tin Hau Women.  I knew she has the goal of becoming a motivational speaker so suggested the organizers include her in their lineup.

3) Take a risk

Give people opportunities. Take calculated risks and people will mostly rise to the occasion and wow you.  Just a few years ago Annika Feign the editor of The Helper was working with me as an intern. I found out she was a great editor by accident, then after just a couple of short-form projects realized she was insanely talented.  She hadn’t cut a feature before, but nor had I directed one so we dove into the project together and the result was fantastic!


4) Don’t be afraid to ask

I’ve become very good this year at going out on a limb and asking for something that might seem a bit of a stretch.  It might seem daunting, but it’s really easy if the beneficiary is someone else and/or a worthy cause!  You would be surprised how happy people are to share their skills or ability to help empower others if they have the time and bandwidth.


And finally…

I’m not suggesting these little steps are going to change the world – but then Rome wasn’t built in a day! Better to be saying #metoo to actively being involved in finding a solution.




SCMP: Pain, sacrifice and hope – inspiring Hong Kong moments from 2017

SCMP article about Hong Kong's heroes of 2017

The end of 2017 is upon us, and every passing year brings about its share of memorable stories, events and newsmakers. In the past 12 months we have seen people from all corners of Hong Kong make invaluable contributions to the community.


When British filmmaker Joanna Bowers moved to Hong Kong six years ago from Los Angeles, she expected to see luxury shops and lots of hurried people. But instead what most struck her was domestic helpers on their Sunday day off. She decided their stories needed to be told, and after raising just under HK$700,000 in 30 days through an online donation campaign, she funded The Helper documentary. It premiered in May and was shown at AMC Pacific Place cinema in October. The film follows the daily lives of five foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong and highlights the sometimes harsh realities behind their happy, smiling faces.


“We really hope that the film creates a shift in perception that is going to humanize domestic helpers in people’s eyes and give insight to what their lives are like,” Bowers expressed.

“I think a lot of people make assumptions about why they made decisions to leave their families and come to Macau and Hong Kong,” she added.

Interview about The Helper Documentary with director Joanna Bowers