These elderly people know more about technology and film-making than you

These elderly people know more about technology and film-making than you

Ever helped an old person use the internet? You know it can be frustrating. But here are some tech-savvy seniors who really know their stuff

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Silver Age Studio members (front, left to right) Cora Wong, Li Chi-chiu and Fran Kwok, (back left to right) Maria Hui, Vicky Mak, Keyman Tam and Kwok Kai make movies for fun, and to educate.
Silver Age Studio members (front, left to right) Cora Wong, Li Chi-chiu and Fran Kwok, (back left to right) Maria Hui, Vicky Mak, Keyman Tam and Kwok Kai make movies for fun, and to educate.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP

KK Law Kwan-kae's leg was hurting because she had left her knee brace at home, but that wasn't her primary concern.

"Hurry up now, hurry up! Or we won't have time to play!" she warns her computer class, a group of 10 seniors peering at computer monitors. The 68-year-old had already taught them how to look up maps and bus routes, and find videos to watch. On the day we visited, she was showing them how to play mahjong online.

Law has been teaching computer skills at the HKSKH Lady MacLehose Centre for about six years. Her assistants, Leung Siu-wing, 70, and Mike Wong Lam-gun, 77, offer help to struggling students.

"Honestly speaking, young people can't teach the elderly," says Wong. "They get too impatient having to repeat themselves."

Law's course lasts eight weeks, but many seniors take it multiple times because they forget what they learned. One has been attending for two years and is only just starting to grasp some concepts.

A tech fanatic, Law reads computer magazines to stay up-to-date, and regularly uses smartphones, gaming consoles, and computers that run on Windows, OS and Linux. Every week, she meets up with Leung, Wong and other tech-savvy elderly people to discuss the latest high-tech developments.

"We try our best to keep up, and it's not that hard if you update yourself regularly," says Leung. "We aren't under pressure. We don't need to come first in an exam."

The trio also visit schools to help children with Chinese input, and they are now developing a Chinese font which complies with the Hong Kong Education Bureau's standards.

According to Leung King-man, the Centre's senior project officer, children are confused because what they're expected to write is different from what they see on the screen.

"Developing a font is time-consuming and dull, and young people wouldn't be interested in doing it," he says. "But the elderly can. They're Hongkongers who want to do something for Hong Kong."


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Meanwhile, another group of elderly people are having the time of their lives making microfilms to change the perception young people have of them. "We've got dreams too," says 81-year-old Li Chi-chiu.

"We didn't have the chance to make films when we were young, so we've got to do it now."

Li is part of Silver Age Studio, which recently worked with RTHK to make a short video promoting road safety. Their latest film, Saving Bing Sutt, took three out of four awards at last year's Hong Kong Microfilm Tinma Awards, beating younger, professional filmmakers.

Saving Bing Sutt is funny and hip, with elderly actors incorporating Cantonese slang and jokes. They also cosplayed Jack and Rose from Titanic, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson.

Keyman Tam King-yeung, 64, portrayed Bruce Lee in the film. Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit, he spins his nunchucks and delivers an impressive kick towards the camera. "I practised that kick so many times at home," he recalls. "I even broke a light bulb!"

Working with Senior Citizen Home Safety Association officer Boris Lam, the group was responsible for everything, from preparing props to acting and filming. Kwok Kai, 82, stayed up until 4am to shorten a pair of trousers needed for filming the next day, but said: "I didn't think it was hard work at all. It was fun!"

The members of Silver Age Studio also love using social media and smartphones, but a few people think they should act their age. "Some young people think we're old, and look down on us for making films at our age," says Mak Wei-lai, 75. "So we just stop talking to them about it!"

And most of the group just shakes it off. "We know what it's like to be young, because we used to be young too," Kwok says. He proudly holds a copy of 100 Most, a magazine popular among the youth, but laughs.

"I don't actually read it. I just bought it because we're featured in it!"

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Old dogs and new tricks

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