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Li Yifan

Release year: 2019

Run time: 125 mins

Film type: Documentary


The Chinese word shamate (杀马特, written in the film as SMART) is a homophonic appropriation of the English term “smart”. This word started appearing on the Chinese internet in the 2000s, referring to fashions associated with migrant workers in large cities. These fashions soon became an online group identity recognised by migrant workers themselves. We Were SMART explores the lives of those associated with SMART—primarily young factory workers—through conversations with, and footage shot by, them.


Director biography

Born 1966 in Chongqing, China, Li Yifan graduated from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1991, and afterwards worked as a director for TV commercials in Guangzhou. In 1996 he returned to his hometown and worked as a writer. Between 2000 and 2001 he worked as the chief editor of the newspaper Yu Zhou Fuwu Bao.