Prison Architect

Prison Architect takes inspiration from the somber histories of the Victoria Prison, located in the earliest penal structure complex built in Hong Kong under British colonial rule. The work was filmed on the site of the original prison, which today houses an important part of the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, opened in June 2018 after ten years of restoration work.
The two protagonists – an architect and a prisoner living in parallel realities in the present time and an ambiguous distanced past, respectively – conjure up imaginations and experiences of imprisonment. In their dialogue across space and time they debate the relations between humans, the world, and freedom. They talk of visible and invisible imprisonment, existentialism as a means of self-redemption, and at the same time question the relationship of humans to the space around them. An attempt at reconciliation with the world and human nature.
Prison Architect is inspired by “The Comfort of Captivity”, a short story by Hu Fang.
by Cao Fei
with Valerie Chow Kar Ling, Kwan Sheung Chi, Wong Ting Kong, Cheung Ho Kit, Wong Ting Pong, Tsui Ka Lok, Lo Ka Chun, Wong Hei Nam, Andrew Kwok, Lee Wai Shing, Wong Hing Kok, Chung Chee Ching
Hong Kong, China / People’s Republic of China 2018 Cantonese, English 59’ Colour


  • Valerie Chow Kar Ling (Architect)
  • Kwan Sheung Chi (Poet)
  • Wong Ting Kong (Junior Prison Officer)
  • Cheung Ho Kit (Prison Officer)
  • Wong Ting Pong (Prisoner)
  • Tsui Ka Lok (Prisoner)
  • Lo Ka Chun (Prisoner)
  • Wong Hei Nam (Prisoner)
  • Andrew Kwok (Prisoner)
  • Lee Wai Shing (Prisoner)
  • Wong Hing Kok (Prisoner)
  • Chung Chee Ching (Conductor)


Written and Directed by Cao Fei
Cinematography Kwan Pun Leung
Editing Cao Fei
Music Dickson Dee
Production Design Cyann Ho Pui Yu
Sound Design Dickson Dee
Sound Lam Hon Fung Victor
Costumes Sean K
Make-Up Candy Law Hiu Man
Assistant Director Thomas Lee Chi Wai
Production Manager Elysa Wendi
Producers Xue Tan, Gabe Chan
Commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary

World sales

Vitamin Creative Space

Produced by

Tai Kwun Contemporary

Cao Fei

Cao Fei, born in Guangzhou, China in 1978 is an artist currently living in Beijing. Her films and installations have been showcased at a number of international biennials and triennials and major museums.

Filmography (selection)

2006 Whose Utopia; 20 min. 2007 i.Mirror; 28 min. 2013 Haze and Fog; 60 min. 2018 Asia One; video installation 2019 Prison Architect

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019