Director: Bing Zhou
Considering how many movies I have watched from this city over the years I have somewhat of a vested interested in the current issues there. I sort of know people who live there now or just like annoying them on the internet and was following the whole thing via twitter and social media via multiple accounts right up to the point people started being set on fire. Given the bushfire situation in Australia at the time, it was just all too much for me and I had to stop following everything from that city apart from the regular media.
It is hard to get a sense of what was actually going on during the protests just following the activist accounts as they tended to amplify and focus on every little thing and it was just too close to everything. Any other opinion was blocked out and shouted down online until it seemed like only one side was the correct one.
Seeing how events you are directly involved in contribute to history is almost impossible as you are right there and can’t see the perspective. Given the long colonial history of Hong Kong and the British East India Company in China these are issues that are hundreds of years old already.
This documentary is different in that there is no narrator or anyone connecting the different people’s stories together. There are seven different people’s experiences shown from taxi driving uncles, teahouse owner aunties, a PTU officer, a front line protestor, councillors on the government and pro-democracy side and an EMT who attended the protests for several months.
From what the director said they had seven different teams following the people over the same time period. There were professionals doing the drone shots and they made an official application to be accredited as media and where open and honest as to what the footage would be used for.
The camera operator at the front line protests was an Australian and had the full protective gear including a bullet proof vest.
Something that really stood out was them having a police officer’s viewpoint and they said it took at least a month to get approval to film with them. The police officer said he does not mind being trashed online, but has trouble with his family going through the same thing. He admits he is the same age as a lot of the protestors.
Even the hard line frontline protestor admitted that the government had been playing the protestors and police off each other to gain the favour of the public to their own ends. “If I had a gun I would not want to shoot a cop”.
With the insane partisan politics of how things are discussed online or in the Murdoch mainstream media these days, it was refreshing to see the actual people behind the viewpoints and you can’t just outright dismiss their opinions if you know why they hold them and how they came about them.
This documentary will be a subject of study in politics and social studies classes for many years to come and will hopefully get a wider audience online even if a lot of people behind the Chinese firewall will not get to see it.
Q&A at DOK.fest Munich 2020