Ho Tam

The Visit

16 min, 2015

A Chinese man in the 19th Century costume finds himself in a strange world. Does he belong to the past, the future, or the present time? The Visit tries to explore the concepts of travel, expedition and migration.


Full Length Works

Books of James

74 min, 2006

Through a stack of personal journals, the video reconstructs a biography of the South Dakota born and New York City based artist James Wentzy. Tracing his early days arriving the big city to ending an AIDS activist, the video provides an intimate portrait of a neglected hero and unearths a time now forgotten, with rare footages of ACT UP.

2007 -- Best Documentary Feature, The Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival

2006 -- Programming Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Outfest - LA Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

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Seasons of the Boys

4 min, 1997

Shot at the Chinatown Basketball Tournament in New York City, it is about the myth of a "boy-season" that all men have been waiting for, which comes just once and only for a brief moment. The video documents the Asian boys who can jump, or at least pass the ball. Living between Black and White Americans, the yellow boys attempts to negotiate a space for themselves.

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Miracles on 163rd

25 min, 2001

Shot at a friend’s Christmas party in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of NYC. Presented in real time and without any commentary, the video is an ethnographic study of race, gender and sexual politics. The video simulates the artist's eyes in an environment consisted of mostly African or Latino American males.

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My Memories of Me

3 min, 2001

The video is a self-portrait composed of fragments from old pictures of the artist as a little boy. Are the pictures substitutes of the memory itself? Do we remember ourselves from our pictures? Or is it someone else's memories of us?   How and what do we remember ourselves of? Matched with a suspenseful original music score, the memories are at once innocent, funny, and scary.

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Pocahontas: TransWorld Remix

5 min, 1998

A MTV parody of our global culture -- re-telling the New World history with music remixed from the 4 versions (English/French/Chinese/Spanish) of Disney's movie soundtrack. Featuring Korean American transgendered activist Pauline Park as our heroine, Pocahontas is a documentary and a present day fable of globalization, Disney's Empire and the ever-changing North American social, cultural and geographical landscape. Shot on location at the Central Park of NYC.

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Projection / Installation

Fine China

9 min, 2000

Fine China is a video exploration of China's past and present with a different take on issues within and outside a country of growing influence in the present day. The video transcribes a collection of found and original footage into a display of 22 re-designed porcelains ( fine china ) with banal and iconic (and ironic) images like the panda bears, Jackie Chan, MacDonald's and Mao. It is a search for China's identity in the new millennium.

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The Yellow Pages

8 min, 1994

Arranged from A to Z in 26 segments, the video looks at the relationship between image and text. In a playful and satirical manner, it roams through past and present of the Asian experience within North America and beyond, from the Chinese railroad laborers, Hiroshima and the Korean War, to the arrivals of the Boat People and the Hong Kong money. Both simplistic and complex in its presentation, The Yellow Pages seeks to interact with the viewers, never allowing one single reading.


8 min, 2005

Filmed at the monthly AsianXpress party at the 5ive Night Club in Toronto, the video is a fictional documentation of the participants – young men seeking love and fun while negotiating their identities in the margins. On top of the hypnotic ambiance and the dreamy images of boys dancing, we read the exchanges among the individuals. Seductive and utopic, Discopedia studies and spells out the language and the psychology of the club culture.

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The Loop

18 min, 2001

A documentary video of the artist's performance of circling a moving walkway in downtown underground passages in Tokyo, Japan. With the camcorder on his chest, we see from the artist's point of view of the people on their way to work one October morning at rush hour.   Similar to his previous titles, this video again demonstrates the artist's attempt to interpret, interact and/or integrate into the larger social context of our everyday world.

Short Works

Confessions of a Salesman

55 min, 2008

Comprised of 13 short works, it features new, old and remixed pieces of the artist’s best works from 1994 to 2008. Linked together through the autobiography of a fictionalized businessman, each thematic segment of the video explores facets of identity which constitute an Asian man in contemporary society. The overall fabric also reveals the artist’s fascination with cataloging the everyday.


Books of James (short version)

17 min, 2002

This is a short version of the film of same title, focusing on the earlier years of the artist/activist James Wentzy.


"... this video navigated the interior dialogue of a body alternately betrayed, discouraged, rebellious, hopeful and ultimately entitled." -- 2003 Images Festival, Toronto


2003 -- Grand Marnier Video Fellowship, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York

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Ave Maria

8 min, 2000

Inspired by the choral music recorded during the worship of the Black Virgin at Montaserrat, Spain, Ave Maria explores and expands the universal meaning of maternal love. Shot entirely in the New York City subway, the video is a visual metaphor of passages one travels through in an ever changing world.

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She Was Cuba

17 min, 2003

Using the 1964 Russian-Cuban co-produced film "I AM CUBA" as a starting point, SHE WAS CUBA is a video made up of two stories.    explores the nature of memory, exploring the time passed and what is left behind.

The first story traces the death (and back to the life) of a Cuban woman who left Cuba and seeked political asylum in Canada. The second story follows the videomaker in his daily accounts of his visit to Havana.   In a way, the videomaker too deals with his past in his internal exile.

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Matinee Idol

17 min, 1999

Matinee Idol is an experimental video about the story of Ng Chu-Fan (1911-1993).   A well known Cantonese (Chinese) actor from the 30s Hong Kong and crowned as the Movies King of South China, Wu is virtually unheard in the rest of the world. An prolific actor and filmmaker, Wu was best remembered for his dedication in his portrayal of the everyday man. Ng later migrated to Ottawa, Canada in his later year.

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Dos Cartas / Two Letters

4 min, 1999

Two lovers, Julio and Telonius (a.k.a. Upi), were asked to write a letter to each other while one of them is on a short trip.   Exploring issues of love, relationship, and the gaps of class, race and generation, the video takes the viewer to the interior of Peru -- Machu Picchu, and the hearts of the two lovers.   Please note that the two letters (one written in English and one read in Spanish) appear on video simultaneously.   The viewers, as outsiders, are not required to understand everything.

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Bus No. 7

3 min, 2008

Bus No.7 is about the bus that the artist used to take when he was a child living in Hong Kong.   The bus is a symbol of adventure. With fond memories, Ho Tam recreates his first experience going out to explore the world. Imitating the child's point of view, the bus seen in the video is playful and filled with life of its own, running through the city streets day and night.

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Cop Strings

6 min, 1998

In a trip to Hong Kong, I was cruised by this attractive young man at the airportwho turned out to be a policeman and a musician. As a result, I asked him to do a performance for me and this was how this tape got made. Mixing the old and the new, the public and the personal, we learn unexpected details about a person and could only imagine the rest.

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Hair Cuts

8 min, 1999

Compiled with images of storefronts of beauty parlor and barber shops from Chinatown and the Lowest East Side in New York City, the video takes the viewers into the almost mythical hair culture of the local community. Accompanied by a soundtrack of "Heart Sutra" chanting from a Buddhist monastery, HAIR CUTS explores the interior of human hearts through the architectural mapping of sites seen.

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99 Men

3 min, 1998

9 pictures of men. These are the result of my obsessive clippings of from the Chinese American newspapers the last five years. They are the car salesmen, real estate brokers and other professionals who advertise themselves in the papers. I have been always been fascinated by men with glasses, tie and suit. Slightly out of focus, and along with some old Chinese radio music, the pictures tells the generic and personal stories of the men who makes a living in selling, and the person who collects their photos.

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The Yellow Pages was commissioned by PUBLIC ACCESS (Toronto) through an open call for an video installation/exhibition at Union Station in Toronto, 1994 to 1995.


"A mini-treatise on race, culture and desire" -- 1977 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

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Still Lives (in the Americas)

20 min, 2003

A part-fictional/part-documentary video about art and life. The centre is a direct pairing of 10 paintings and their video counterparts, introducing 10 Asian men of Toronto. There is no urgent story except the everyday survival. Beyond telling their stories, Still Lives emphasizes the presence of the artist behind, through his conscious interaction with his subjects.

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... in the dark

6 min, 2004

Made one year after SARS crisis, the video re-visits the images collected from the Toronto and the international media.   Through all b/w re-photographed pictures, all we can see is the darkness of a time passed, a city under panic attack, politicians scrambling for words, physicians looking for remedies, citizens living in a state of fear, distrust, paranoia and shame. How are we to make of those few months that seemed to last forever?

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Dear Sis:

5 min, 1998

"Dear Sis, I am sitting on the subway and all of a sudden I have this urge to write to you . . ." Here begins an apology letter written from one sister to another. Starting with the issue of sibling rivalry, the video is an examination of the connection and distinction between one person to the next  -- taking us further to the greater subject of the humanity. The letter is an actual one I have written to my sister which was never sent. Images is filmed on subway train in New York City.

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Washington Heights

4 min, 1998

Made for "Illicit Acts," a program for New York MIX Festival 1998, Washington Heights Untitled is a Super-8 experimental documentary on the local community where the artist is residing. Under the administration of Mayor Giuliani, blockades were set up by the NYPD in many blocks to prevent drug trafficking. Capturing the essence of the Dominican neighborhood, the video documents on the changes in the community and the horror of possibly becoming a "police state."

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La Salle Primary

5 min, 1998

In February 1998 I travelled back to Hong Kong to re-visit my elementary school. Time has changed but there are still the same Chinese Catholic boys in school uniforms. The result is a video of self-discovery and a structural play of the physical and the psychical space where I spent my formative years.