A confidential screening of Hong Kong protests documentary Revolution Of Our Times was held for select members of the press at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. Not on the official schedule, the Special Screenings title is a harrowing two-hour-plus look at the 2019 pro-democracy riots and is directed by Kiwi Chow (A Complicated Story, Ten Years, Beyond The Dream).
In 2019, the people of Hong Kong rebelled against a proposed extradition bill which would have allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to China. In 2020, the regime replaced it with the National Security Law which gives Beijing the power to shape life in Hong Kong, effectively cutting back on freedom of speech.
From June 2019, Hong Kong became a hotbed of political unrest. Protests began peacefully, but escalated as the local police engaged in an oppressive crackdown on demonstrators and journalists.
Revolution Of Our Times cannot be screened publicly in Hong Kong, the director has explained, due to heavy monitoring by the government. The movie is broken into chapters and depicts a macro view of the historical context and up-close and personal stories on the front lines. Interviewees are largely kept anonymous with the use of face coverings while the production staff also has remained anonymous.
The seven teams of protestors followed by the film include a group of netizens who formed a sentinel station which spread first-hand information from the frontlines and coordinated “parent-cars” to help protestors to escape; an online journalist, who did the live broadcasting of the “Storming the Legislature” and the “Yuen Long Attack”; a 73-year-old farmer who formed the “Protect the Children” group; a high school voluntary first-aid worker; a team of university students; a teenage valiant protestor; and a front-line protestor who became a father figure to a small squad of twenty young protesters. The latter group of strangers eventually fled to Taiwan.
The filmmakers have lost contact with some of the interviewees, saying some went into exile, while some are serving prison sentences.
In a statement, Chow said, ”I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Cannes. It is our honor to have the world premiere of Revolution Of Our Times, a film documenting the struggle of HongKongers, at Cannes; and receive great attention. Hong Kong has been losing far more than anyone has expected, this good news will be a comfort to many HongKongers who live in fear; it also shows that whoever fights for justice and freedom around the world are with us. And HongKongers are staying strong.”