An urgent and illuminating documentary that tells the story of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests through the eyes of four main characters. F:act Award, CPH:DOX 2021.
.. A film which is not only one of the most complete accounts of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests to date, it’s also, at times, an unbearably tense picture which unfolds with urgency of a thriller. --Wendy Ide, Screen International
The battle against oppression is not just fought on the front lines on the streets, but also at home in the living rooms, in the schools and on social media. --CPH:DOX
Dirs: Cathy Chu, Iris Kwong, Ip Kar Man, Huang Yuk-kwok, Evie Cheung, Han Yan Yuen, Jenn Lee. Hong Kong. 2021. 103 mins
The film follows peaceful protestor (William), teenager (M.J.), law student (Eve) and ‘frontliner’ (Tan). All four are involved in HK’s leaderless movement fighting to maintain democracy in their island city.
As the protests escalate and millions take to the streets, each finds a way to contribute. Eve handles the phones and provides legal advice. M.J. joins the throng but he’s fearful of arrest and what that will mean for his future. William struggles with the physical conflict and tries to keep to the sidelines. Tan faces tear gas and water cannons but struggles with family commitments.
Across shopping malls and university campuses, the violence escalates as an entire generation juggles defiance, desperation and despair. This prize-winning and courageous film features exceptional access and dynamic footage.
‘When a City Rises’ has been a part of this year’s programme at CPH:DOX, which describes it as a courageous film about an entire generation’s last chance for a democratic future.If anything, the collective work ‘When a City Rises’ shows us that the battle against oppression is not just fought on the front lines on the streets, but also at home in the living rooms, in the schools and on social media. And we are there on all fronts in a courageous film about an entire generation’s last chance to have a life in democracy and freedom – until Covid-19 shows up and changes the rules of the game once again.
When a City Rises deserves to be widely seen. Revealing on both the strengths and the problems of a ‘leaderless movement’, it is both an informative account and a propulsive piece of storytelling. The film should find further festival slots and may be of interest to specialist documentary distributors. -- Wendy Ide, Screen International