Vivid and strikingly objective, Zhou Bing’s in-the-field documentary covering both sides of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement examines the personal and political identities at odds in this ongoing conflict.
Hong Kong Moments follows seven of its citizens during the city’s 2019 protests as activists flooded the streets to rally against a controversial extradition bill – one which stood to undermine their civil rights granted under the “one country, two systems” arrangement with Mainland China.
Although the bill was withdrawn in September, demonstrations continued as leaders refused to comply to the protestors’ full demands and the threat of a Mainland regime loomed – protections under a “Basic Law” are due to expire in 2047. Over two protest days leading up to local elections, the documentary’s seven subjects – a frontline protestor, two politicians, a police officer and a volunteer first-aider among them – express how the protests affect them as filtered through their own personal contexts, revealing a web of clashing opinions aggravated by generational divide, but united by a loyalty to their Hong Kong identity.
This documentary is not a primer or historical lesson. Rather, interwoven moments of our protagonists going about their day – snapshots of police brutality, conversations between shop owners and customers, and the juxtaposition of pro-Beijing and pro-democracy campaigning – elegantly convey both the micro anxieties of daily life and the high stakes of this moment in history. It’s a timely feature in more ways than one: though ending on a hopeful note, a Chinese-imposed national security bill recently approved means protests still rage on as we watch this. — Jean Teng
About the Filmmaker
Zhou Bing is a Chinese documentary maker who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for more than five years. He was also a co-producer of the feature film Crosscurrent (2016), winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.